Jessie Campbell – GRAPE changed my life
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
JESSIE CAMPBELL, 13-year-old Foga Road High School student is today giving thanks for the Gang Reduction And Prevention Education (GRAPE) programme.
For him, the programme opened his young eyes and set him on a path of consciousness.
But this might not have happened if he did not have a vigilant mother who was unhappy with the direction his life was taking and commanded him to join the evening programme, which runs from Monday to Friday at the May Pen Police Station.
GRAPE, which was launched in April 2011 targets at risk youths from schools in the parish and involves educational tasks, behavioural modification, social skills and character building techniques.
The programme is a collaborative effort that involves parents, teachers and the police.
At risk boys – those who are identified to be involved in marijuana smoking, fights, extortion as well as other negative behaviours are usually referred to the police by their parents or teachers.
According to Inspector Owen Brown, sub-officer in charge of the Community Safety and Security Clarendon division the programme has been reaping great success.
Jessie said his mother sat him down, told him how much she loved him and that she didn’t want him to get unruly, before ensuring he joined the programme.
“I was always talking back to her, disobeying her and I was involved in bad company,” he said.
Now a ‘little favourite’ of the police team at the Community Safety and Security Branch, young Jessie said he is enjoying the mentorship being provided by the team of police.
“They teach us to speak and attire ourselves properly. They also help me to learn discipline and manners and how to react properly to adults and I also learn about proper hygiene,” he excitedly related.
For Jessie, the best part of the programme is being with adults he can look up to and some of them are even father figures for him.
The teen said he does not have much interaction with his father.
“That’s why I was acting up because I am so angry with him,” he said.
Campbell acknowledges that he was giving his mother a lot of trouble and he said being with the bad company who oftentimes beat up boys and extort money from them, he did not realise he was doing something wrong.
“The GRAPE programme really opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he said.
Campbell who lives with his mother and grandmother said his guardians have it hard financially and sometimes the money is not available for the things he needs and that’s when he gets even angrier.