IPAD for Life – Empowering Youth

Photo: Dave Reid Acting Police Commissioner, Novelette Grant (centre), shares a moment with participants in the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s ‘IPAD for Life’ summer camp at a recent sponsors’ breakfast at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew.

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Identity, Purpose, Attitude and Destiny (IPAD) for Life Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Summer Camp has been having a life-changing impact on participants since it commenced in 2015.
  • The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Identity, Purpose, Attitude and Destiny (IPAD) for Life Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Summer Camp has been having a life-changing impact on participants since it commenced in 2015.
  • Miss Grant explains that the initiative is designed to help students become rounded citizens.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Identity, Purpose, Attitude and Destiny (IPAD) for Life Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Summer Camp has been having a life-changing impact on participants since it commenced in 2015.

Fourteen-year-old student, Sean, says consequent on his participation, he has developed a bond and new-found respect for lawmen.

“The police officers at the camp are now my friends, and we talk and reason about things that affect me,” he tells JIS News.

Sean says the two-week summer camp was a great learning experience, particularly relating to the importance of reporting disputes to the police rather than resorting to violence to resolve issues.

Acting Police Commissioner, Novelette Grant, tells JIS News, that IPAD for Life was conceptualised in 2013 with a view to instilling good values and discipline in the nation’s youth in their formative years.

She says the initial camp was held in 2015 and will be hosted for the third time this year, with the continued partnership of the camp facilitators and counsellors from the JCF’s Community Safety and Security Branch, Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) and Mobile Reserve as well as participating schools.

Miss Grant explains that the initiative is designed to help students become rounded citizens.

“We want them to be able to identify good role models and gain respect for the law, the police and their peers, while ensuring that they were equipped with social and problem-solving skills that will assist them to build healthy relationships,” she states.

Miss Grant says the camp targets children deemed vulnerable to negative influences and aims to help them to build resilience against these factors.

“We recognise that these children are smart, and if we leave them without guidance, they can become potential problems for the police in the future,” the Acting Commissioner notes.

She says the camp also helps the JCF to build positive relationships through mentorship with the teenagers.

“These children are from several neighbouring communities that are sometimes at odds. So the camp not only helps the JCF mentor youths, it also aids in community rebuilding,” the Acting Commissioner adds.

A key component, which Miss Grant says underpins the camp, is the role of responsibility entrusted to a number of the participants in ensuring that their peers adhere to the stipulated guidelines.

“We set the rules, and that is all. The campers hold each other accountable and ensure that the rules are enforced; if not, they (report) the persons who disobey. Although we have the police overseeing the activities, the children make the process easy,” she adds.

Miss Grant points out, however, that, as a first resort, when rules are broken the children endeavour to talk to the offenders and encourage them to do better.

She recounts one occasion where one participant, Chris, whom she says was deemed to have notable leadership qualities and commanded the respect of his peers, and who got into a fight, broke down in tears after they told him that his actions were below par and that they had lost confidence in him.

She says Chris’ experience served as a wake-up call for him and the police.

“It tells us that sometimes when children do bad things, they are looking for love and reassurance. Chris is a clever boy, and the campers realised that and encouraged him to do better. They gave him a second chance and, most importantly, they gave him hope by allowing him to continue as their leader, despite his indiscretion,” she tells JIS News.

Miss Grant says the summer camp is helping teenagers find renewed purpose and vigour as adolescents. She further indicates that the JCF’s early intervention in the lives of children like Chris helps to prevent the onset of delinquent behaviour.

“If Chris and other children do not have the proper guidance and support, they can easily become troubled teens (and challenges for) the police and the country,” she contends.

The Acting Commissioner points out that following the intervention by his peers, Chris’ behaviour improved remarkably.

“One day, Chris made a sacrifice by giving his belt to another camper for a dress inspection. He was willing to attend the inspection without a belt, knowing that he would be reprimanded. These are the selfless acts that we see at the camps… this is what keeps us going,” she shares.

Miss Grant says the two-week camp covers several areas that support the children’s journey into adolescence. She notes that they have hands-on activities and open discussions about conflict resolution, volunteerism, bullying, dating and interpersonal violence, among other things.

She says the camp is about selflessness, friendship and ensuring that the participants understand the importance of deportment, personal hygiene as well as motivation to confidently take their place as productive and valued members of society.

The Acting Commissioner further states that a reward programme is one of the methods the JCF uses to get high participation in the camp.

These include awards for displaying kindness, being the most disciplined participant, most improved male and female, most creative, best all-rounder, most outstanding leader, most helpful, and displaying the best technical skills.

Miss Grant emphasises that IPAD for Life is not merely a summer camp for young people.

“The idea of this programme is to have residential camps, and after this we intend to have different phases that train the facilitators to ensure the continuity,” she states.

Miss Grant says, since camp’s 2016 staging, JCF programme facilitators have been able to engage approximately 14,000 persons from different schools using the IPAD for Life concept.

She encourages parents, school administrators and professionals, particularly the business community, to support the initiative.

Meanwhile, IPAD camper, Richard, in recounting his experience, says, “They (the police) taught us how boys and girls should treat each other and how to find our identity and purpose in life. I also learnt how to keep my community clean and not to join gangs and follow bad company.”

Another participant, Malik, says the camp was inspiring, adding that his peers helped him to become a better person.

“Intervening early in the lives of these children, not only saves future leaders from straying, but it also prevents the onset of adult criminal (tendencies) and reduces the likelihood of youth becoming serious and violent offenders,” Miss Grant underscores.

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