THE POVERTY Reduction Programme (PRP) through the Grants of Low Amount has given the St James communities of Flankers and Norwood the tools for improvement with a 'Life Skills Training Programme' designed to assist in diverting youth from crime and violence into gainful occupations.
The programme, with an emphasis on remedial education and sporting activities, is expected to build a feeling of self-worth in youth of the two communities as they transition into adolescence and adulthood.
Executive director of the Family and Parenting Centre, Dr Beverly Scott, said, "This programme is really helping in a tremendous way. Children who were fighting in the initial stages of the summer camp have now turned around their behaviour becoming leaders."
The PRP-funded Life Skills Training Programme being implemented by Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) seeks to address the emotional and academic challenges of these at-risk youth, through lifeskills training, remedial education/e-learning, sporting activities and parenting skills. The aim is to improve the participants' ability to cope, improve their interpersonal relationships and life chances.
"The programme is necessary because of the number of referrals we have been getting from schools that have children from these volatile areas. We found the behavioural problems are related to their academic performance and how they were being treated at home and in their communities," said Scott.
"Our goal is for them to go back to the community with the skills they learned to impart to their younger peers, to be honest, practise conflict resolution, value self-worth, and sexuality management."
She added: "We are training them to form clubs and impart to the younger ones what they have learned here."
It is expected that the increased sense of belonging and well-being that results from participation in the programme will reduce the frustration previously experienced within families, among school administrators, and the youth themselves.
The youth in the 13-14 and 15-24 age groups previously participated in the JSIF-funded summer camp, and later committed to the Life Skills programme which encompasses 144 hours each of life-skills training with remedial education and sporting activities to redirect them into acceptable emotional and social behaviours.
The PRP Life Skills Training Programme is determined to give the youth of Norwood and Flankers a chance at a better life.
The PRP is funded jointly by the European Union and the Government of Jamaica and is implemented by JSIF.