One hundred and fifty-two students from 10 high schools across three parishes have returned to the education system better equipped to manage conflicts and disciplinary issues.
The youngsters, from the parishes of St. Catherine, Clarendon and Trelawny attended a behaviour-modification camp over the summer, where they benefited from intervention to build their self-esteem and leadership skills and steer them away from violence, gambling, bullying, and drug use. They also received career counselling and went on educational field trips.
The camp, held over two weeks at the Ebony Grove High School in Clarendon, was organised by the Dynamic Cadet Corps, which is based in the parish, through partial funding from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
It was held under the theme ‘Promoting Safety and Security; Students Making Peace and Respect a Priority in the Home, School and Society’.
“I have learned now to control my anger and improve my behaviour and leadership qualities,” says student at the Trelawny- based Albert Town High School, Omelia Riley.
She tells JIS News that “normally, if somebody says things that I don’t like, I would fight. But I now know how to handle it. It (camp) also taught me about responsibility and to care about others”.
Desrine Flowers from Guy’s Hill, St. Catherine, tells JIS News that she has seen the improvements in her son, who participated in the camp.
“He is more disciplined. He is more willing to do tasks without me telling him, and to spend more time reading,” she notes.
Captain of the Dynamic Cadet Corps and camp coordinator, Rene Level, tells JIS News that the initiative was geared at empowering students who have behaviour issues.
Focus was placed on inculcating the cadet corps values of respect, responsibility, honesty, loyalty and punctuality.
Miss Level informs that all the participants were required to chart their long-term and short-term goals, and what they wanted to achieve in school.
She says that at the end of the camp, the students were mandated to return to their schools and help to foster a culture of disciple and unity.
The students will continue to receive support to ensure that the improvements are sustained, and will benefit from various peace-building activities, culminating with the celebration of International Peace Day on September 21.
Miss Level is imploring parents to ensure that their children with behaviour problems get help early and that they continue to work with schools to improve overall discipline.
Coordinator of the Ministry of Education’s Safety and Security in Schools Unit, Richard Troupe, says that the camp was important in imparting skills to the students on how to peacefully manage conflicts.
Mr. Troupe says officers from his unit are available to work with parents and community groups to reach children in need of support. “We prefer to intervene before there is a crisis,” he says.
The Dynamic Cadet Corps, formed in 2013, assists troubled children from several secondary schools in Clarendon, and supervises the cadet corps in several high schools in the parish, along with St. Catherine and Trelawny.
It provides members with counselling, and training in paramilitary techniques, education and leadership and development skills, in order to prepare them for success in school and at the workplace.