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Some six hundred students and parents, along with a number of guidance counsellors in St. James, are benefitting from a 12 month intervention and behavioral programme sponsored by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of over $24 million.

Executive Director of the Family and Parenting Centre in St. James, Dr. Beverly Scott, whose organisation spearheaded the programme, said guidance counsellors and deans of discipline were included in the initiative so that they can be equipped to timely assist children who display deviant behaviour in schools.

She explained also that the parents were equipped with motivational techniques to better handle difficult situations with their children.

Dr. Scott was delivering her report at a closing ceremony held Friday, October 12, at the Centre in Unity Hall, Montego Bay.

“Parents were exposed to topics such as communication with children, dealing with childhood disorders, setting up rules and praise, positive motivation, and child development. All of the children who entered the programme were pre-tested to determine the levels of intervention needed, and post tested to determine their behavioral change to be reintegrated into the school system,” she said.

Dr. Scott further revealed that at first intervention, many of the children manifested severe emotional problems however, after participating in the programme, “our overall post-testing reveals that 85 percent of participants manifested only mild or less emotional problems”.

“Of the over 360 cases that we dealt with, only three were referred to other agencies for further intervention.  We have received positive reports from the schools, the children and parents have also express their gratitude and their personal stories suggest that the programme has benefitted them,” Dr. Scott told her audience.

For her part, Project Manager for the Japan Development Fund at JSIF, Ayanna Demetrius, encouraged project participants to keep on working. “This is one of my favourite programmes that I have had the privilege to participate in, and I want to encourage everyone to keep on working. It is not easy, but when you see the results and you see the children return to school-behaving better and becoming productive, that is fulfilling.

“For the parents, don’t give up. Our children are our future, and a child cannot fulfill the role of a true mother, who has not been given the opportunity to live the life of a child and have proper values inculcated, so continue to steer the course,” Mrs. Demetrius said.   

Meanwhile, Principal of Green Pond High School, Michael Ellis, who was guest speaker, said his school can testify to the transformative effect of the initiative. “We have seen the benefit at Green Pond. We believe in the project. We will continue to invest in the project, and it is our hope that before long our students will certainly achieve those behavioral goals that they have set for themselves,” Mr. Ellis said.

Several parents and students also testified at the ceremony of the positive impact that the project has had on theirlives.

The twelve month behavioral modification initiative saw the participation of 12 primary and high schools in the parish with 360 students, 300 parents, and 24 guidance counsellors. Books were also provided under the project which was sponsored under the Japan Development Fund at JSIF.