Creative Youth Academy, Nevis Old Cotton Ground Police Station

Daniel MacMullin

Operation Future is preparing to launch our second Creative Youth Academy in the Old Cotton Ground Police Station.

The Creative Youth Academy is a community based intervention program with the goal of both early intervention and gang intervention. The program is designed after the highly successful Just TV and Street Culture Programs in Winnipeg and Regina, Canada respectfully.

Operation Future has studied the gang culture as it pertains to the Federation, we have found many parallels to the gang culture elsewhere, particularly, in why youth get involved in the gang culture. We have learned that youth get involved with the gang culture seeking out a surrogate family, recognition, acceptance, structure and security.

Successful intervention programs must be able to provide for youth what they seek out from the gang culture. This is not something that can be accomplished with programs that engage the youth for a few hours a week, a successful program must meet the needs of the youth, this means long hours. A successful programs first obstacle is finding a way to engage these youth.

Since May Operation Future has been working to totally renovate the Old Cotton Ground Police Station from a dilapidated structure to a showcase for the Caribbean. When finished, hopefully sometime in September, the facility will feature an audio/video recording studio to engage the youth, a band room with a wide range of musical equipment which will also act as a classroom, activity room, counseling and meeting room. A common games rooms/lounge and a fully equipped kitchen, in addition, there will be a wide range of sporting equipment available for youth to sign out and use in the sports ground behind.

It is the position of Operation Future that a program will be effective if it is open and available when the youth need it. Our goal will be to develop a wide network of volunteers who care about the future of their home and have the facility open and staffed from 3:30 pm to 8:00 am during school days and all day Saturday and Sunday. It is anticipated as time goes on those youth who become involved with the program in the beginning will eventually take control of the program themselves and mentor future youth.

At this time we are asking people to start thinking about getting involved and return peace to our island. The current situation brings to mind a couple popular sayings “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem” and “It takes a village to raise a child”.

Shortly, I hope to facilitate a workshop introducing the Creative Youth Academy and the principles behind the program, the more people involved the more likelihood of success.

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