• Feature
    Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Gary Rowe (left), and Chairman of the Jamaica Broilers Group, Robert Levy (right), lead a group of volunteers from Hi-Pro Farm Supplies, the We Transform Initiative, and students and Faculty members from Humber College, in Canada, to establish a vegetable garden at the St. Catherine based Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre for boys.
    Photo: Dave Reid

    Story Highlights

    • The Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre for boys, in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, has received a boost in its quest to provide the wards with modern agricultural training, as part of the rehabilitation process.
    • Under a partnership involving Hi-Pro Farm Supplies, the We Transform Initiative, and students and Faculty from the Humber College, in Canada, the programme was recently expanded to provide enriched rehabilitation and education for boys 12 to 18 years old.
    • Head of the facility, Superintendent Martin Dryden, says he is very elated with the practical experience in farming for the wards, and that “every boy has to be a part of the agricultural programme.”

    The Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre for boys, in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, has received a boost in its quest to provide the wards with modern agricultural training, as part of the rehabilitation process.

    Under a partnership involving Hi-Pro Farm Supplies, the We Transform Initiative, and students and Faculty from the Humber College, in Canada, the programme was recently expanded to provide enriched rehabilitation and education for boys 12 to 18 years old.

    Head of the facility, Superintendent Martin Dryden, says he is very elated with the practical experience in farming for the wards, and that “every boy has to be a part of the agricultural programme.”

    “There’s a schedule and we rotate them, so that they get exposed to that area,” the Superintendent tells JIS News.

    He thanked the partners for the help, describing it as a wonderful collaboration to transform the youngsters.

    A vegetable garden has been established at the Centre, along with expansion of poultry rearing. Hi-Pro Farm Supplies has provided seedlings, 250 baby chicks and feed, medicine and chicken rearing booklets to improve the institution’s food sustainability programme, and a technical person to ensure that the initiative succeeds.

    Superintendent Dryden notes that the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) had provided some support earlier.

    “We’ll be using the project as a teaching tool for the boys, because it’s a way of giving them something to do when they leave here. The technical assistance from Hi-Pro will help to drive this project, and to make sure it is successful,” he says.

    Meanwhile, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, says the public-private partnership will go a far way in building the capacity of the juvenile Centre, and that Humber College is on a very important mission to assist the boys.

    He adds that the inmates are receiving “life skills that will transform them into real farmers.”

    Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Gary Rowe (left), and volunteers from Hi-Pro Farm Supplies, the We Transform Initiative, and students and Faculty members from Humber College, in Canada, to establish a vegetable garden at the St. Catherine based Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre for boys.

     

    “We are going to have a very modern facility capable of taking care of much more chickens. It is not our intention to leave them unattended without any support. We will provide them with employability skills in preparation for life upon their release from this Centre,” Mr. Spencer tells JIS News.

    Much was done at a recent work-day held at the centre by the partners, and Criminal Justice Major at Humber College, Danielle Liwanag, says her group wants to make a “difference to the boys.”

    “They have so much potential and it’s all about growing and working together,” she tells JIS News, after participating in the vegetable plots, the renovation of the broiler house at the facility, and distributing gift packages to the wards.

    Destinee Penney, a recent graduate of Humber College, shares that along with planting pack-choi, lettuce and “just anything to basically help out,” the experience allowed them the opportunity “to interact with the boys and learn about them, their stories and getting a feel about how they interact with each other and us in this little community.”

    For her part, Store Operations Manager at Hi-Pro Farm Supplies, Tricia Jackson, says their “aim is for the centre to be able to provide for the wards, as well as to make some profit, so that they can make sure that the project is sustainable.”

    Thirty-three boys are housed at the residential facility, and Superintendent Dryden says programmes there include academic training, behaviour modification, recreational activities and vocational training.

    “Every boy is exposed to all the academic core subjects, so we have teachers in place for that. Additionally, we have boys from the remedial level right up to the CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) level. Outside of that, we also have trade areas like woodwork, tailoring, food and nutrition, computer technology, auto mechanics…to ensure that when they leave here, they have a skill,”