Tameka Stanford, Jamaica's first PTS master coach, praises rewarding experience
Newly qualified master coach Tameka Stanford (centre), takes part in one of the interactive teaching games used by the PTS curriculum.

AFTER five years of working with the internationally acclaimed Passport to Success (PTS) system of imparting life skills to at-risk young people – first as a trainer of youth, then as a master trainer teaching adults to be trainers – Tameka Stanford has now qualified to be a PTS master coach.

"A master coach at a trainer of trainers (TOT) workshop can offer guidance and advice when various issues and challenges arise and provide any support the master trainer may need," she explained.

Stanford, who was one of the first local PTS trainers, and later was among the first group of four master trainers in Jamaica, is now the island's first and only PTS master coach, and one of only four in the English-speaking Caribbean.

The PTS curriculum, developed by the International Youth Foundation (IYF), equips young people with a range of skills that will help them stay in school and acquire the education, professional skills, employment readiness, and confidence they need to succeed in life and at the workplace. Its highly participatory approach employs a variety of innovative teaching methodologies rather than traditional, lecture-based ones. Critical skills taught include self-confidence, teamwork, communication, interpersonal skills, problem solving, and decision-making.

Tameka Stanford.

Stanford is especially appreciative of the unique aspects of this curriculum, noting, "I like the simplicity of it, and the fact that it's applicable all over the world – that's amazing. No matter where you are it's easy to take it and insert it into your country, your culture, and it can reach the young people."

In fact, Stanford is one of many adults working with the PTS curriculum who report that, in addition to the life-changing benefits it brings to vulnerable youngsters, it also helps them as adults. Speaking at the June 27-30 train the trainer workshop at which she completed her practicum as a master coach, she said she was doing administrative work at The MultiCare Youth Foundation in 2017, when the opportunity came up to train as a PTS trainer under the New Employment Opportunities for Youth (NEO) Jamaica project.

"MultiCare was the executing agency for NEO in Jamaica, so the training took place in the same space. The opportunity appealed to me because I wanted to expand my skills while also getting to know more about young people. I have always been interested in young people, I did a lot of community work when I was much younger, even in my teens, I did a lot of volunteer work with at-risk young people.

"As a result, that PTS training opportunity did appeal to me, and it would also help to raise my self-esteem, I was very shy. I'm coming from being very reserved, very much in the background, and now I am not shy."

Becoming a master trainer in 2018, along with three other trainers, Stanford says, brought a different set of challenges, but was just as rewarding.

"When we did our first workshop as master trainers it was scary, but at the same time it showed me that I could do it. Training adults is rewarding. It's rewarding to see that it works, and especially to see that they are receiving what is being shared with them. It's nice to see when we put together thoughts and ideas that we can help to come up with solutions, and to know that the change goes further and I'm a part of it. So that's looking at the macro picture, knowing that my little micro aspect contributes to that, so it's lovely."

Stanford adds that she is deeply grateful to those at the IYF who have produced such a versatile, far-reaching tool for change.

"It's an amazing curriculum that they have designed. I am very grateful because they have created so many opportunities, not just for young people and youth at risk, but for adult learners."

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