JIS News

Director of Peace at the Life Counselling Ministries in Clarendon, Josephine Williams, has called on stakeholders within the education system, to recognise the worth of the peer counselling programme, in keeping students focussed and goal-oriented.
She said the programme has been reaping tremendous success in schools within the parish. Speaking at a peer counselling competition recently hosted at Central High School in May Pen, Mrs. Williams, who has dedicated her time to helping young persons get their lives back on track, informed JIS News that peer counseling can be used to avert negative situations in which youngsters often find themselves, and propel them to achieve their full potential.
“We aim with the peer counselling for growth and development. Many of the peer counsellors that we have that went out last year are now in university, colleges or they are working… and I know two of them are here to testify that they have been helped through peer counselling. As a non-government organisation I would also like to thank the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, which came in and assisted me years ago when no one else understood that Clarendon needs help with professional counselling for children and students in schools, and also for parents who are challenged,” she said.
She advised that students should not shy away from the idea of being peer counsellors, but should realise that in being involved in this way, they can significantly impact the lives of others, and in so doing, better their own situation.
“Presently, we have 300 peer counsellors in schools and we really want to have a forum where all of them are together, and would really understand that even I can make a difference, even if I don’t have it, even if I don’t have clothes to go to school, I don’t have food, I don’t have fare, I’m still important and I can achieve something from being a peer counsellor,” she continued.
Mrs. Williams remains optimistic about the power of the programme to reverse the current negative trend of violence among students, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, among other things, which have become challenges within the secondary school system.
“I identified that a lot of students in the schools are challenged and that they really needed professional counselling… because of that I started the intervention in 2003. Most of the students who are challenged and are referred to the counselling centre have been enjoying professional counselling without their parents really contributing, because many persons really cannot contribute. Many of the challenges and the counselling session would go into, for really a challenge case, even eight months. I’ve partnered with the Ministry of Education’s Counselling Unit with the PASS programme. With the PASS programme we really deal from the point of view from the guidance counsellors referring students. Most of them have behavioural problems, others are really academically challenged as well because they can’t read,” she informed.
“For 2009, we’re looking at the challenges that we’ll face, we’ll face them as they come. …but I know that these peer counsellors who are in training, will also help it to be much better. We’ll see an excellent school year in Clarendon, and I love the students because I know that for them, they can see Clarendon at a higher level of safety, I know they are quite worried about what is happening in Clarendon now, but I know they will be the change agents for Clarendon, coming into 2009,” she added.

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