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JIS News

Seventeen young men from communities in Kingston and St Andrew and St. Catherine, who were deemed to be at risk, are now on the path to a brighter future, having successfully completed the three-week Possibility Programme, held at the Jamaica Defence Force Newcastle base in St. Andrew.
“Believe in yourselves”, “set your goals high” and “take pride in yourselves” were just some of the many encouraging words offered to the young men at the graduation exercise held today (September 16) at Newcastle.
Chairman of the board for the Possibility Programme, Dr. Jaslin Salmon, in his address, called on the graduands to view their successful completion of the programme as a stepping-stone to a brighter future. “I congratulate you for staying the course, but you must see this graduation as the beginning and not the end of the road,” Dr Salmon urged.
The Chairman further called on the successful participants, some of whom were street children, to use the skills that they had acquired to set examples for others and to believe in themselves. “Resolve in yourselves the belief that you will turn over your lives,” he noted.
A project of the government of Jamaica, the Possibility Programme was launched by Prime Minister P. J. Patterson in 2001 and is aimed at improving the lot of street children and troubled youth across the nation, by providing them with the resources, support and tools for maximizing their human potential.
The ultimate goal of the programme is to eliminate the need for children and youth to be on the streets, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty. A key goal is to reconcile them with their families.
A total of 29 boys entered the programme this year, but only 17 completed the training. The number doubled last year’s participants.
Lolita Knibb-Phillips, the project officer, explained that during the three weeks, the graduates benefited from skills training, literacy and numeracy programmes, training in conflict resolution, sex and reproductive health, money management and job readiness.
The graduates were awarded in several categories, with Dave Stewart named the Top Academic Performer; Yohan Edwards was Most Punctual; while Fabian Daniels walked away with the Most Improved award. The graduates are expected to receive their certificates at a later date.
Batch Valedictorian, Fabian Stewart, who has ambitions of becoming an engineer, told JIS News that the camp had changed his life. “It has helped me a lot, I have been able to upgrade my education and my skills. I have learnt how to communicate better with people and how to avoid fighting. I appreciate it,” he said.
And, parents also had high praises for the programme. Edna Bligen, mother of Mario Ferguson, informed that after not seeing her son for three weeks, he appeared to be a changed person. “He is not as aggressive as he used to be. I believe the programme has really helped him and I know he has the potential but just needs to work hard,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Mario’s father Monnel Ferguson lauded the initiative as one of the island’s best youth rehabilitation programmes. “This programme is a stepping stone for my son. It is one of the best programmes that government has put on for troubled youth. I appreciate it,” he noted.
An evaluation and assessment of the programme and the graduates, including those who prematurely left the programme, will be carried out.
Other key supporters of this year’s programme are the Dispute Resolution Foundation, and Pauletta Chevannes, Project Manager for Change from Within.