NYS Graduates Urged to Become Agents of Change


Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry-Wilson, has encouraged graduates of the National Youth Service (NYS) Behaviour Modification Programme to see themselves as agents of change, by positively influencing the lives of other young people with whom they come into contact.
“I want to congratulate you on sticking with the programme.and I want to challenge you to be a pioneering corps for the changes that we are going to have to make for other young people,” she stated. Speaking at the closing ceremony for the 2006/07 programme, which was held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on June 28, Minister Henry-Wilson implored the graduates to continue to practise the values they have learnt, as this will ensure that they stayed on the path to becoming worthwhile citizens of which Jamaica can be proud.
“From time to time, everybody exhibits anti-social behaviour, but the critical thing is that you know when you are doing something wrong and you can ‘catch yourself’, and make the appropriate changes, because a part of growing up is having self-control, discipline, distinguishing between what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s acceptable and what’s not,” she noted.
She further urged the participants to stay in school, and also implored those who will be graduating from their current schools to become productive, either by working or continuing their education.
The Education Minister also urged the mentors, who participated in this year’s programme, to continue the process of providing guidance, noting that they can have a positive impact on more young people, who will be taken into the programme.
She re-affirmed the Ministry’s support of the mentorship programme, and noted that its success has led to a recommendation for it to become a national initiative to include an additional 2,000 young people. The national programme will be launched by the NYS later this year.
Executive Director of the NYS, Rev. Adinhair Jones, encouraged the graduates to live up to the principles of the Service, which embodies a culture of discipline, hard work, service to community and personal development through education and skills training.
He also urged parents to continue to facilitate the process of change within their children by “being there for them” and congratulated the mentors for “sticking with the programme”, noting that they have impacted positively on the lives of many of the participants.
“Researchers say that children, who participate in a mentoring programme are 46 per cent less likely to start doing illegal drugs, 27 per cent are less likely to start drinking alcohol, 52 per cent are less likely to be truants and 53 per cent are less likely to engage in violent behaviour. So, we believe that the mentoring programme is something that we can bank on.especially since we have fundamental problems relating to parenting,” he stressed.
The NYS Behaviour Modification Programme was implemented in 2002 and was primarily targeted at truants. The programme was again held in 2005 and 2006, but targeted a wider cross-section of students, who were considered to be “at risk” as they displayed anti-social behaviour, violent demeanour and performed poorly in school.
Some 300 students have already been accepted into the 2007/08 programme and will start their camps in the upcoming summer.
The programme consists of four segments to include camps, counselling, workshops, and the mentorship programme.

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