Youth intervention programme launches Phase 2
Following the success of last year's inaugural programme, Phase 2 of The Re-Birth Project - an intervention initiative for at-risk youth and their parents - was launched at the Spanish Court Hotel recently with guest speaker Dr Grace McLean, chief education officer at the Ministry of Education.
Among the guests was grieving Re-Birth mother, Shernette Bryan, whose 16-year-old son, Jamieke Smith, was fatally shot at his home in Fletcher's Land last week. Both were participants of programme.
"The violent and senseless murder of this teen, a young man so close to us, brought home forcefully to me that youth and families exposed to community violence must be taught more coping skills. Programmes like ours will serve to help counteract some of the ills that thwart our beautiful country's development," said Melody Cammock-Gayle, co-founder of the project.
Established in March 2014, the Re-Birth Project was conceptualised by the Cammock-Gayle-led Marketing Consultancy team of MC & Associates, comprising 20 students aged 13-15 from the Norman Manley and Tivoli Gardens High schools, who have the potential to do well academically, but frequently display poor behaviour. Through developmental workshops and inspirational speakers, the programme aimed to influence positive attitudes and reform behaviour of at-risk students, while equipping parents with skills and resources for better parenting.
At the end of the first phase, based on feedback, the majority of participants remain engaged and continue to show positive signs of improvement. The participants also reported better parenting skills, stronger and more respectful parent-child relationships, less time spent on the streets, and greater interest in schoolwork.
Meanwhile, unplanned, value-added experiences included a full-tuition tertiary scholarship awarded to a student, 'Parent Places' to be established in both schools by the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), parents being awarded complimentary spaces in Helen G's event planning workshops that have the potential for income generation, a special loan facility for parent-participants courtesy of the First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union and psychometric testing conducted by Dr Trevor Hamilton & Associates free of cost, a test which would have cost thousands per person.
Phase 2, Cammock-Gayle explained, will endeavour to form the linkages between, aspiration, attitude and achievement, placing much emphasis on aspiration.
"Every child, regardless of his or her personal and family situation, has strengths that are unique to him/her. This is why we had Trevor Hamilton and Associates, led by Dr Ainsley Deer of Training Dynamics & Consultants Limited, conduct Purposeful Alignment assessments. From these results, we will be able to structure career development workshops best suited for each of you. Then, too, we will be better able to coach you into goal-setting techniques based on your individual strengths and interests," she said.
Coupled with a strengths-based approach, Phase 2 will also include reinforcement of conflict resolution training and field trips.
"This is all about exposure, gaining new experiences such as those had spending time with fine art. And so we will be visiting the National Gallery, not only for its therapeutic powers, but also to guide you in practical ways to cultivate an appreciation for forms of expression outside of the familiar dancehall music or hip hop. We hope this tour will additionally serve to pique your interest in exploring new experiences to heighten your skills/talent/strength creativity while at the same time engender pride and appreciation in our collective national talent," Cammock-Gayle said.
Raring to go, Roncell Brooks, dean of discipline at the Norman Manley High School, praised the organisers for the programme, highlighting the benefits they have reaped as a school including the upcoming establishment of a NPSC Parent Place at the school and a significant reduction in the number of complaints from teachers of participants
The Re-Birth Project - Phase 2 Workshops begin on February 21 at the Caenwood Auditorium, St Andrew.