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Olympians to visit state wards today

Published:Thursday | February 7, 2013 | 12:00 AM

AS PART of its move to reduce male recidivism in the country and to offer a ray of light to errant juveniles, the Rotary Club of Kingston will today take members of Jamaica's gold medal-winning sprint relay team to the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre in St Catherine.

Club President Manley Nicholson told The Gleaner last week that the visit is part of a 'Back to Life' initiative, which involves providing mentorship to the youngsters.

"We have lost too many of our boys in our society and we have very much lost our men," Nicholson stated.

He said since the project was launched last July, mentors have spent time with the boys every other weekend.


He told Rotararians at last Thursday's weekly luncheon that having the male Olympians interact with the boys is important for the project.

"There might be a lot of Usain Bolts inside these institutions," Nicholson said.

He told The Gleaner that when the Olympians tour the facility, they will interact with the boys, "all in an effort to influence these boys in some other way".

He added: "The statistics are so glaring. These boys, invariably, if nothing is done, will move from a juvenile centre to an adult prison. Our prisons are filled with men. I believe we can bring these boys to be men in their households rather than men in prison."

Lt Col Sean Prendergast, the commissioner of corrections, said the programme was going well, while noting that there were a number of volunteers who have acted as mentors for the boys.

Nicholson said more than 35 mentors have been trained and are actively involved in the programme. He also said there are life coaches who assist the youngsters in setting and achieving goals.