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JIS News

The National Youth Service (NYS) is hailing its 2006 Behaviour Modification Programme as a major success, with the initiative having a significant impact on the lives of the students, who participated.
“Generally speaking, the point has been made and the values have been shaped so that they themselves (the participants) can recognize when they have not toed the line or when they have broken their commitment,” said Janet Allen, Project Supervisor for the programme.
She added that the participants were now at that stage where they were taking responsibility for their actions, which was part of the solution.
Mrs. Allen pointed out to JIS News that while the students will make mistakes and go back on some of their commitments, “the programme continues to support them and to get them back on track.” A total of 289 students participate in the first phase of the year-long programme, which involved the staging of two ‘success camps’ in July and August at the Garvey Maceo Comprehensive High School in May Pen.
During this phase, the students were exposed to a wide range of areas including anger management, conflict resolution, personal development, behaviour management, problem solving, life skills training, communication skills, as well as sporting activities.
The second phase, which includes parenting workshops, a mentorship programme and periodic visits to schools by the NYS personnel, got underway at the start of the new academic year.
Mrs. Allen said she has been very pleased with the progress of the mentorship programme.
“We are very pleased especially since the programme is now national and we have students spread across the island. Usually, we find that there is a challenge to recruit in particular male mentors, but this year, we are so pleased at the response of corporate Jamaica, which is overwhelming. We have at least identified a mentor for each participant on the programme,” she stated.
She noted however, that she would like to see a “pool, resource or a network of mentors in our database that at anytime, we can always have a set of persons, who have said to us ‘we are willing to contribute to youth development'”.
She encouraged interested persons to contact the NYS. “We will continue to appeal to persons if they are interested in sharing their experiences with a young person for the purpose of developing them. We would just encourage them to apply to the NYS and I just want the mentors to know that we offer training for all our mentors,” Mrs. Allen said. In terms of the parenting workshops, Mrs. Allen told JIS News that one session has been held in each region so far this year. The workshops, she said, have been “picking up a little slow and the attendance has not been a hundred per cent because of varying reasons. We have looked at some of the reasons and we are trying to make adjustments as we go along to have maximum output and turnout of these parents. We are looking into the new year where we will have the bulk of the rest of the workshops.”
The NYS corporate service officers have also been making periodic visits to the schools to monitor the students’ progress, and to get feedback from the administration and students to see how they were settling in and making the re-adjustments.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Allen appealed to the schools to give the students a second chance even though they may feel overwhelmed by their disruptive behaviours.
“I find that the schools are at their limit right now where the tolerance is concerned and are applying a zero tolerance approach, whilst the programme, on the other hand, is asking them to give (the students) a second chance,” Mrs. Allen pointed out.
She noted that some schools that had previously dismissed students, have re-admitted them, “or we have had situations where we have gotten them to be transferred to other institutions”. The Behaviour Modification Programme was introduced in 2002, and is geared towards re-socializing students, age 13 to 17 years, who display anti-social behaviours. Some 300 students are targeted each year.