Don’t give at-risk youth the cold shoulder, head of the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Community Policing Programme Inspector Roland Cobbler today appealed.
Inspector Cobbler was addressing students and staff of the St Elizabeth Primary School in St Joseph as a cohort of 16 young people gave the school’s playground a much-needed revival.
It was part of a joint initiative between the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Prince’s Trust initiative – a program which continues to prove that at risk youth can turn their lives around when placed in the right environment.
“One must agree that sometimes during adolescence young people lose their way, and we believe that [they] deserve a second chance. This program provided these young persons, who are not involved in any form of education or vocational training [or] any form of employment to participate in a program for 12 weeks which has developed their personal skills and has motivated them so much that they themselves can become productive members of society,” said Cobbler.
Youth ages 14-25 have been identified as most at risk for engaging in antisocial behaviour and criminal activity in the country. Inspector Cobbler says the program gives them much-needed motivation to turn their lives around.
In fact, he revealed that 75 per cent of the young people who passed through the program since its inception in 2016 are now either gainfully employed or have returned to school.
The 16 participants were required to raise more than $3,000 to complete the project and did so by washing cars, selling natural juices and receiving generous contributions from businesses and members of the public.
Team Leader of the International Prince’s Trust program Sergeant Hallam Jemmott who also serves as head of the Juvenile Liaison Scheme says the project was completed in eight days.
“It is never a dull moment when you’re working with young people, especially this bunch of young people that I had, but it was enjoyable… and they did do a fine job,” he said.
Principal of the rural school Gloria Benn says the project comes at a time when numerous calls for assistance from other organizations have been futile.
“We have thought, and we have tried, in all kinds of manner, to refurbish the school and we are so happy that the Trust was able to come on board and bring that into a reality.”