Jolyn Bryan, Gleaner Writer
The Yallahs Primary School, last week, began the community service segment of its Anger Management Programme.
The programme is an innovation of the Guidance and Counselling Department and is designed to identify students with behavioural issues who have difficulties operating in the school system. It aims to help them learn stress-management strategies and behaviour modification. Last week Thursday, several of the children enrolled in the programme travelled around the Yallahs district to distribute Christmas gifts and toiletries and food supplies to the less fortunate. The students, who were mostly boys, got a chance to choose the beneficiaries in advance and most chose shut-ins and elderly persons in their own communities with whom they were acquainted.
Accompanied by guidance counsellor Cherry Copeland and teacher and member of the guidance committee, Andrea Bogle, the boys went far and wide, joking and jostling as they went, very eager to deliver their presents. Residents responded very well to thier generosity, thankful that they had received presents and much-needed supplies in time for the holidays.
The Anger Management Programme has proven to be a success in the eyes of teachers and parents alike. Camille Samuel's son, Lamar Goldburn, otherwise known as 'Foodie', is enrolled in the programme and she describes his transformation as wonderful.
"He's not rude, he's no longer feisty. He has changed from being so angry and aggressive. The programme is definitely a success and I am glad to have it," she told Rural Xpress.
Twenty-two students, three girls and 19 boys between the ages of nine and 12, are currently enrolled in the programme, having been identified by their teachers as students who required individual attention. Many have been marked as troublemakers, disruptive, and increasingly inattentive to lessons. Many of the students are plagued by poverty; sexual, physical, and emotional abuse; and neglect. Others react to conflict that exists in their home and act out to get attention.
To counter these issues, once enrolled, students are placed into groups, and a leader and assistant are chosen to teach them how to interact positively with each other and authority figures. Each student begins each day with 30 points, losing points for disruptive behaviour, and keeping and re-earning them for attentiveness, politeness, and positive behaviour. They are monitored by parents and teachers to gauge overall improvement. The guidance counsellors have also brought in mentors and have sessions to improve self-esteem and self-awareness. Constable Leroy Powell, resource officer at Yallahs High School, held the first session on mentorship and motivation. Parents are also integral to the programme, giving assistance with projects and donations. A major part of the money used in the community service activity was donated by parents. Several efforts have also been made to reach out to parents in an effort to help them understand how to help their children.
Inspired by their growing success with the programme, the Guidance and Counselling Department is planning to improve on the present activities.
"We plan on making several trips in the coming school year. We want to go to a children's home, and we would like to have several trips to the Hope Zoo and Serge Island Diaries. We also want to focus on getting a psychologist to come in and assist us because it is evident that some of the issues these children have stem from learning disabilities, and we are determined to help them as best we can. We have to make the best use of our meager resources to get the very best for our children," Copeland told Rural Express.