By:Curtis Morton

Charlestown—Nevis—Director at the Social Services Department, Mrs. Sandra Maynard-Williams has lauded the launch of the YES TO SUCCESS program as a success.

She was making reference to the launch of the program which is geared mainly to at risk youths and which was effectively launched on Monday 21st September. The launch was held at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church hall conference room and commenced with prayer by Pastor Wayne Maynard.

The program commenced in June 2015 and saw a number of young persons who generally may not have done well academically and may have had some issues with relevant authority figures in the past, being organized into a class room setting where they were taught certain specific skills.

Mrs. Maynard-Williams in her address to the gathering indicated then that thirty-five persons had signed up for the program and asked for a round of applause on their behalf for making such a good choice.
She pointed out that due to the odd bad choices made by young persons; they have historically been taken to court and sentenced to take lashes and sometimes fined and imprisoned.

She lauded the efforts of organizations that have put preventive programs in place but noted that many such programs are never continued.
Across the OECS countries, a juvenile justice reform strategy is being implemented and the participating countries are given money; training opportunities and other resources to better deal with young offenders and at risk youths.
She stated that the Harris’ home in St.Kitts has been replaced by the New Horizons Rehabilitation Center. This has been supplement by the recent passing of the child justice act.

Her Department is therefore in the process of finding alternative ways of dealing with young offenders who may only need another chance in life in order to make a positive difference in their lives. Such persons can be trained through the YES TO SUCCESS program which is funded by the European Union (EU) and such alternatives can be proposed to the court system as ways to deal with persons who have committed minor offences. The magistrate will determine whether or not young offenders are given the chance to get into the diversion program or be imprisoned or otherwise punished.
She asked the representatives of the specially invited business places to pay special attention to those students who may not have done well academically but only need a chance to excel in areas where they are talented.

She noted that the EU would have donated over $40,000.00 to the project, through a grant and she thanked the organization and the Ministry of Sustainable Development in St.Kitts, for assisting with facilitating the grant request
Probation Officer, Mr. Leostone Morrison further elaborated on the program with the aid of a slide presentation which showed pictures of the facilitators and students during training sessions and some of the achievements of the young adults, during the program.

He explained that the program was geared to changing the youths from the road of bad choices and sending them on a positive path of diversion.
The program involves three basic facets:
Counseling; education and skills training.

He noted that the majority of the students have completed Secondary school but are still below age 18. The program effectively includes individuals between the ages of 16 to 31. The program aims to equip them with lifelong skills.
He used a real case scenario of a particularly poor home situation to show why some children run afoul of the law.

The program which will run for four months at a time, includes field training (practical sessions) and in house training (theoretical) where special facilitators are invited to speak to the participants on specific topics.

The participants are paid a stipend and therefore have to be closely monitored to ensure that they not only show up but participate in the relevant activities.
Some of the topics covered during the in house training sessions included: Food safety; budgeting; resume writing; self esteem; conflict resolution; protection; prevention and preparation; continuing education; work etiquette and attitude and marijuana and prescription drugs.

Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Social Development, Mr. Keith Glasgow, indicated from the outset of his presentation, that the Ministry of Social Development, through the Nevis Island Administration, is fully committed to the project.
He gave a historical overview of the types of sanctions generally used within societies to maintain order, such as imprisonment but noted that such punitive measures sometimes tend to harden criminals and lead to repeat offenders.
He stated that studies have shown that the percentage of offenders who are rearrested is high.

He therefore lauded the launch of the YTS program, even though he noted that even such a program would have its challenges.
He however challenged the participants to make the best of such a program and their chance at making something positive of their lives and commended all of the entities who would have been a part of the implementation of the program.
He then declared the program officially launched.

One of the participants, Mr. Jiles Byron also gave an overview of the program’s impact on his life and the lives of his fellow participants.
He too thanked all who had made the program possible and assisted in giving the participants another chance to make a positive impact on society.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Miss Anesta Maynard of the Social Services Department.

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