Westmoreland youngsters get second chance


July 20, 2016
Contributed Students get down to a game of netball.
Contributed Omario Kerr (right) arrives at the camp with his suitcase.
Contributed Sharon Hylton (left) brings her son Tajae Hylton (right) to the camp.

Several youngsters in Westmoreland are now part of a targeted two-week summer programme aimed at helping them to find their purpose in life.

Clyde Evans, principal of Petersfield High School, where the camp is being held, said that the students included are those "who are heading along a path for expulsion from their various institutions."

"For some, it's their last chance," Evans told THE STAR.

Approximately 100 students from four schools are included in the programme.

He, however, stressed that not all the students in the programme are unruly. According to Evans, the participants, many whom are from troubled communities, "just need someone to talk to."

The listening ears have come from the deans of discipline and counsellors from various schools and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which has been supporting the initiative through the Safe Schools Programme.

their fears

Sergeant Tanecia Johnson, coordinator of the Safe Schools Programme, acknowledges that there are negative views of the police among youth, but she said those views do not hinder their progress.

"We tell them we are your friends. We are not here to hurt you. They eventually warm up to us and get over their fears of Babylon," Johnson told THE STAR.

The Petersfield camp is being held under the theme "IPAD for living". The I - represents Identity; P - purpose'; A - 'Attitude'; and D - 'Destination' .

According to Evans, the programme does not stop at camp, as the participants are taught about the importance of branding. He said issues such as skin bleaching in the way persons project themselves to the public is also explored.

"We have follow-up sessions where progress report on each students is discussed," Evans said.

Johnson said the police also use social media to keep in touch with participants. For instance, she said a Whatsapp group was created for the youngsters and the students are encouraged communicate freely with each other in order to create a bond.

Ideally, Evans would want the camp to be longer, he said there are financial constraints.

"Actually, this year, the Government has given us more financial support, but parents help where they can," Evans said.

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