Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen is encouraging wards at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre to make good use of the training and mentorship programmes to which they are being exposed.
As he spoke with wards who participate in the Rotary Club of Kingston’s Back2Life Mentorship Programme, Sir Patrick urged them to view their time at the centre as a period of reflection and focus on what they want to do, where they want to go and what they want to achieve when they leave.
He told them to “set their goals high,” adding that they should not settle for mediocrity. “When you leave here, do not go backwards,” the Governor-General said.
Following a tour of the facility’s computer lab, woodwork shop, the tailoring unit and home economics department on Tuesday, April 23, Sir Patrick who interacted with some of the wards, said he was impressed by the rehabilitation and training programmes which were delivered in a normal school atmosphere. In fact, he commented, the Centre could consider itself the “Rio Cobre High School”.
The Centre’s approach ensured that wards did not lose touch with the normal environment thus making their re-integration into society easier. He commended the Superintendent and staff of the facility for their outstanding work.
The Back2Life Programme is endorsed by the Governor-General’s ‘I Believe’ Initiative and Sir Patrick considers that this mentorship programme could be replicated in the island’s correctional facilities. The programme provides the wards with counselling and other forms of emotional assistance as they work through the various situations with which they are confronted.
The Governor-General affirmed that at this time in their lives the wards needed someone on whom they could lean and that Back2Life was there to help.
“Despite all the skills that you will learn here, you will still need somebody to work with you and to make this period of your life as comfortable as it can be,” Sir Patrick Allen said.
The Back2Life to life programme is a project aimed at reducing recidivism among wards at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre. Twenty-eight fully trained mentors are engaged in the programme.
Several of the wards expressed appreciation for the programme, stating that it has helped them to control their anger and encouraged them not to let go.
Accompanying the Governor-General on the tour were Lady Allen, who has mentored some wards of the Centre, members of Kingston Rotary led by its President Manley Nicholson and the Commissioner for Corrections, Lt. Col. Sean Prendergast.