Moira Morgan in a classroom on the St Paul's Church compound. - photos b y Kyle Macpherson/Freelance Photographer
A UNITED Kingdom-based civic organisation has commenced a behaviour- modification programme, which is intended to help inner-city youths turn from a life of crime.
The Griffin Trust has adopted the 'From Boyhood to Manhood' programme, a successful anti-gun and anti-gang project which was implemented by the UK's Ministry of Education.
"One of the few young people I have ever given up on, in almost 40 years of youth work and care, was (subsequently) transformed by his participation in the original London pilot, from a 12-year-old crackhead into a 14-year-old mentor of excellence for other challenged young people," Moira Morgan, director of the Griffin Trust, said recently.
She was speaking during a press conference at the Canadian High Commission in St Andrew.
"The Griffin Trust researched and observed the curriculum in use and its efficacy in the UK," Morgan added. "We saw the potential for Jamaica and, inspired by a quote from this same young man - 'it's only when you are calling the shots that you can begin to hush the guns', this project proposal was born."
The behaviour-change project will be implemented in five correctional institutions, as well as among persons on probation. Jamaica's attempt at the project will fall under the banner 'Hush the Guns'.
The project is expected to train 40 behavioural trainers and 650 young offenders in behaviour change over a three-year period.
The Hush the Guns project is aimed at delivering a behavioural change programme, based on a 'train the trainers' model for youth, young offenders and the correctional officers. In this programme, there will be 20 community facilitators, which include 10 selected Griffin Trust outreach workers (young people who have turned from a life of crime) - and 10 National Youth Service workers, who will also work alongside 20 correctional facility workers - being trained at the same time.
These trainers will be educated from the Calling the Shots curriculum, which is an accredited curriculum in the United Kingdom. They will, in turn, instruct groups of young offenders from five selected correctional institutions, and also youths on probation from the same programme.
"On graduation, the young people will have the opportunity to gain certified vocational and entrepreneurial skills through our training partners at HEART Trust/NTA and JBDC (Jamaica Business Development Centre)," Morgan said. "With support and mentorship from corporate Jamaica, we then seek to take a number of the graduates on to small business set up and incubation, improving their chances of success."
She added: "These founding partners are fully committed to working together to empower young people, enabling them to make more appropriate life choices, equipping them for life on the outside and changing their lives forever."
Over a three-year pilot project, the graduates' level of success and lessons learnt will be tracked.
The Griffin Trust has been working in Tower Hill, one of St Andrew's most volatile communities, at the grass-roots level for more than five years. Through care, education, training, identifying and building skills, knowledge and resources already in the community, the trust has built a skilled team of workers.
A butterfly passes over Moira Morgan at St Paul's churchyard in Tower Hill, St Andrew. The structure Morgan is leaning against has been unused since the 1970s, and is intended to become the churchyard's library.