At Project Strong, Skill is King in Empowering Youth to Support Themselves

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 22, 2015 (SKNIS): Young people in St. Kitts and Nevis have access to educational tools through which they can support themselves, including those students who excel in non-traditional skills.

Director of Project Strong, Kerinda Warner, revealed that since taking up her duties in September, she has observed that while many of the students are simply not interested in the traditional subject areas, they excel in others.

“Many of them don’t appreciate the regular school setting with subjects like Chemistry, Biology and Physics and what have you,” Ms. Warner explained. “Many times they are left behind in class and they are pushed aside, ostracized, because teachers, and many persons don’t know what to do with them. We are saying, send them to Project Strong, let us give them a skill. Let us find out what they are interested in – and they can still go on to Fifth Form, but at the end of it they will have a skill.”

Ms. Warner pointed out some of the art and craft on display.

“Many of the things that you would see displayed here [Project Strong display room] are crafted through non-traditional skills,” Ms. Warner said. “We engage our students in basketry to make wastebaskets, clothes hampers and potholders. In woodwork they make trinkets, drawing boards, mirrors, domino and draughts boards.”

Shamanta Boddie, a student of Project Strong, displayed her art including earrings and jewelry boxes. Skyadishma Dickenson another student showed her sewing skill, while Fish Pot Construction Instructor, Coleene Hendrickson, explained how to make a fish pot.

The Project Strong Director said that she had done some recruiting.

“I have been to the various high schools, engaging the principals and entertaining the idea of having their students come to Project Strong, at least once a week and learn a skill,” Ms. Warner said. “There are many students in high school at present who don’t have an idea of what they want to become in life. Some of them have a packed time table, some of them don’t. We are reaching out to the school and asking for those students with the time to come once or twice a week. We’ll engage them in a skill and from there they’ll have a better idea of what they want to do if they don’t go through the main academic stream.”

Project Strong’s students are given the skills necessary to create a career but the traditional subjects that are required for functioning in society are not neglected.

“We also engage them in what is known as entrepreneurship and so far, I touched bases with the Credit Union about having a savings account, for them to come and explain what it means to be self-employed, how to go about saving towards your future and how to apply for a small loan,” Ms. Warner said. “We have also been in dialogue with the Ministry of Trade and they are going to speak about CSME [Caricom Single Market and Economy], the skills certificate and how to go about travelling to another island to make a living.

The students are also given English courses as well as, business-related math, and certain IT [Information Technology] modules that relate to operating and marketing their businesses. Project Strong collaborates with AVEC [Advanced Vocational Education Centre] in terms of sharing a guidance counsellor.

In an effort to create a well-rounded individual, Project Strong’s students also attend sessions with Pastor Ira Penny of the Rivers of Living Water Christian Centre. Ms. Warner encouraged other qualified volunteers to come in to Project Strong and give of their time.

Project Strong’s Ms. Boddie was pleased with her progress.

“Well they have taught me a lot,” she said. “I learn different kinds of skills. As for others, I would encourage them to learn a skill. As for me, I might teach others and see where it will go from there.”

Likewise, Ms. Dickenson had high hopes.

“I think I could be something when I finish,” she said. “Project Strong teaches me a skill, so I don’t need a boss. I think it’s a good opportunity, rather than doing nothing and it would also invest in the future. I just think it’s a great experience.”

Similarly, Ms. Hendrickson explained the life skills tools that she teaches in her class.

“Also in Fish Pot, what we do is we try to teach the kids how to make and save their money,” she said. “You learn how to make the fish pot, how to catch the fish and sell the fish as well. You can even make money another way by frying the fish and selling them as well to make more money.”

Ms. Warner revealed the new motto of Project Strong.

“Come on with Project Strong, learn a skill, not just for learning a skill sake, but a skill that can be your future career,” she said. “And our students will tell you our new motto is: “Skill is King.” And we are of the opinion that once you have a skill you can run the world, as you would say. So come on up to Project Strong to Taylor’s or call us at 466-3911 of 660-4869. Come and learn a skill because “Skill is King.”

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