- Some 120 children from Salt Spring and surrounding communities in St. James are benefiting from a four-week summer camp, aimed at character building and personal development.
- The camp, which started on Monday, July 22 at the Salt Spring Primary and Infant school, forms part of social intervention efforts by the St. James Police Division, supported by the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).
- Some $3 million is being spent to host the camp.
Some 120 children from Salt Spring and surrounding communities in St. James are benefiting from a four-week summer camp, aimed at character building and personal development.
The camp, which started on Monday, July 22 at the Salt Spring Primary and Infant school, forms part of social intervention efforts by the St. James Police Division, supported by the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).
Some $3 million is being spent to host the camp.
The initiative caters to children aged six to seventeen years, engaging them in educational and extracurricular activities, as well as motivational talks geared at promoting proper etiquette and positive values and attitudes.
Child psychologists have also been engaged to give special attention to children who need counselling.
Speaking with JIS News, Head of the Community Safety and Security Branch for the St. James Police, Inspector Yvonne Whyte-Powell, said the decision was taken to craft programmes for children, as they are more susceptible to behaviour change.
“This came out of a social intervention that the division started. We have looked at the dynamics and realised that the social intervention programmes are targeting the unattached youth, primarily between the ages of 17 and 29 under the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) and CSJP,” she stated.
“We recognize in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that behaviour is formed long before you reach 17. We decided that we were going to do a programme for the young ones, so during the primary socialisation stage we [can] reach them… before the behaviour is formed; before they start to hate the police and before they get involved in gangs,” she added.
Inspector Whyte-Powell noted that members of the community are integrally involved and are benefiting economically from the camp.
“A key component of the programme is community involvement. The Community Development Committee (CDC) persons do the volunteer work. They are here with us every day…, and where we can, we get supplies from persons in the community so you have the economic benefit and the social benefit,” she stated.
Community Development Officer at the SDC, Jayron Sterling, lauded the JCF for the initiative, noting that the activities will foster behaviour change in the children involved.
“Some of the life skills or some of the soft skills and mannerisms are dying out in the communities. So with this initiative, we are trying to instil some of these values that are not being passed on to the younger generation. They have four weeks of conflict resolution and we want to bring back a sense of belonging to the Salt Spring community,” Mr. Sterling told JIS News.
Members of the Salt Spring CDC are volunteering their services and were tasked with recommending children with the greatest need for participation.
Secretary of the community group, Ann Reid, said the initiative has been having a positive impact on the participants and embodies the kind of action and spirit that is needed to transform the community.
“It is extremely beneficial because during the summer there is not much for them to do. You will find them idling… on the street when their parents are out and there’s a lot of indiscipline. [Therefore] the camp is extremely beneficial because they are now able to come into one place and interact,” she emphasized.
For her part, eleven year old Myeosha Vincent, who is a participant in the camp, expressed gratitude to the stakeholders for organizing the event, noting that it surpassed her expectation.
Myeosha, who will be attending the Montego Bay High School for girls in September, said the camp has improved her interpersonal skills and expanded her knowledge on several topics including road safety, child abuse, respect, and etiquette.
“I have been involved in multiple activities such as [putting together] a jigsaw puzzle that we had to work together on. It will benefit me because it taught me discipline and it taught me to respect those that are above you,” she stated.
For nine year old, Reanna McIntyre, the camp has been a memorable one.
“The experience has been great. We at the camp have done a lot of great activities and based on the experience that I have had already, the summer camp has been helping a lot of people. We have been getting lectures on road safety, how to use a knife and fork, how to answer the phone and all of the nice etiquette you can think of,” she said.
She added that the reading and math exercises “allowed children to express themselves more.”
“It (the camp) is important because some children are not exposed to these kinds of things. So when they have summer camps…where other children get to meet new people, it gives a chance for other children to better express themselves in the best way they can,” Reanna stated.
The camp is scheduled to end on Friday, August 16.
Meanwhile, Inspector Whyte-Powell informed that a breakfast programme which started at the Salt Spring Primary and Infant and the Hartford Basic schools in April this year will continue into the 2019/2020 academic year.
She added that there are plans to commence a homework programme in the community come September 2019, as well as launch a Police Youth Club.