He was an at-risk youth growing up and heading down a path to self-destruction. But today, at age 20, Alleyne Secondary School graduate Tyrell Giles is on a mission to try to put as many deviant young men on the “straight and narrow.”
After conducting an assessment of the needs of the youth in the Cave Hill and Well Gap, St Michael districts, Giles and his team last Saturday launched the P-R-E-S-S O-N Community Project at the Montgomery playing field in Cave Hill.
Using his passion for the betterment of young people, he met face to face with the youth in these communities and found out that sports was the most effective vehicle through which he could reach them.
Armed with an Associate Degree in Sociology and History from the Barbados Community College (BCC) which he gained in 2018, this second-year student currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, turned up at the Montgomery pasture with six footballs, three packs of tennis balls and a cricket bat for use in the programme.
“The footballs were the major issue that the community stated. They said that football was a really big sport, and they wanted to get that off the ground. We are currently seeking donations of netballs to more involve the girls in the community. We also had 25 water bottles which were presented to the group,” Giles told Barbados TODAY this morning.
He said that while the project is targeting those between ages five and 18, others, including parents, would be welcome. He said that sessions will be held on Mondays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Montgomery Community Centre and include such topics as leadership, etiquette, introduction to entrepreneurship, agribusiness theory and practical and emergency lifesaving skills. On Saturdays, there will be strictly sports training and friendly games in football and cricket. There will be no classes between April 27 and May 23.
Giles noted that this project will help him to fulfill his goal of becoming a full-time social worker to deal not only with the youth, but the elderly as well. He told Barbados TODAY his intention is to adopt the acrostic P-R-E-S-S O-N which stands for persevere, respectful, encouraging, serving, striving, open-minded and never give up.
“I am pursuing a career in social work. I want to work directly with at risk youth and the elderly. I believe in advocating for those two, as those two are ignored and looked down upon by society. Especially at risk youth, they just need a guide and a mentor to show them the right path.
“For the elderly, they need someone to be there. They have a problem with family coming and taking their money when they think the elderly are losing it mentally. So I have volunteered at the Soroptimist Village at Eden Lodge and interact a lot with the elderly,” he disclosed.
In reflecting on his troubled life as a boy, Giles has expressed gratitude to his teachers for putting up with him in order to save him from himself. “I was an at-risk youth growing up, and I had to pull myself out of that environment. It was hard, but my teachers in secondary school helped me along the path… put me in Youth Parliament and tried all types of initiatives to get me on the straight and narrow. Eventually, I was on the straight and narrow. Even though I was in Youth Parliament and still not on the straight and narrow, eventually I got on the straight and narrow,” he recalled.
“I definitely would say I was an at-risk youth and now my goal is to show all at-risk youth that they can break themselves out of that environment as well,” the young leader declared.
Giles’ team comprises Michelle Williams, treasurer, who is also president of the Social Workers Association and Rasheena Grant, the public relations officer. (EJ)