Programme reveals kids needed somewhere to go

| 06/10/2011

(CNS): The need for youngsters to have somewhere safe to go and something structured to do in the immediate hours after school finishes has been emphatically confirmed recently with some 800 students signing up for government’s free Extended Afterschool Programme (EASP) in just three weeks. At a recent meeting in West Bay the education minister spoke about the need for the programme covering the late afternoon hours which have been identified as a high risk time slot for young people to find themselves in trouble.  The secondary school programme offers students 31 activities, including martial arts, power lifting, swimming, sailing, scuba diving, dance and media club, between 3-6pm weekdays.

The chief officer in the education ministry echoed Rolston Anglin’s recent comments when she said the programme which is being managed by both the education and youth ministries was seen geared towards reduce opportunities for young people to adopt at-risk behaviour in the three hours after school.

“The programme provides a safe, fun and productive environment between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. until parents return from work. Students on our at-risk register are encouraged to attend, but the programme is open to all students,” Mary Rodrigues said

With so many more parents working full time, few finishing work at the same time as school ends and childminding costs and private clubs too expensive many kids have increasingly been left to fend for themselves until their parents come home for a significant period. The number of kids signed up represents well over a third of all students attending high school in the government system.

The education ministry’s liaison officer for at-risk youth and the coordinator of the new programme said the overwhelming community response to the programme proves that it is a worthwhile investment for the future of the country.

Michael Myles said that the after school service had been piloted for two months earlier this year with nine activities. The programme was then expanded after organisers received positive feedback from the young people taking part and their parents by adding some 22 more activities.

Four social programmes were also added looking at food, families, community and rewards. Myles explained that the food and nutrition programme is designed to expose kids to healthy food preparation practices and advice on healthy life styles. Offered in conjunction with the Health Services Authority (HSA) the programme involves visits to restaurants and information sessions with an HSA nutritionist.

Family recognition night aims to pull parents, volunteers and instructors together for a monthly dinner with students. Myles said students will have an opportunity to pay tribute to their parents, instructors, volunteers and community. Equally, parents will have a chance to meet instructors and develop relationships adding that all stakeholders will be encouraged to attend this event.

Giving back to the many community partners who’ve made the programme possible is also important and Myles added that students from the various clubs and activities will develop projects and partner monthly for this purpose. “This will teach our young people that they too have an obligation as citizens to give back to the country in other areas,” he said.

Finally the students exhibit perfect attendance, respect and hard work,  who perform well, and demonstrate positive leadership and commitment to community service will also receive special recognition via the rewards programme that has also been created as part of the overall after school programmes.

Given the size of the project and the response to it which is essentially about keeping kids out of trouble and giving them something positive to do Myles said, sustaining it long-term will require community support.

“This programme has the potential to grow even further, but it requires volunteers to assist instructors, and incentives in the form of gift certificates and funding,” he said. “We’re inviting persons with ideas for additional activities or those wishing to donate gifts to join the programme. Our aim is to ensure that every young person attending secondary school has a choice for afterschool activities. By ensuring that this happens, we will prevent young people from engaging in negative activities,” he added.


Category: Local News

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is where the 1.4 million dollars that the nwp church got, should have gone towards!!! West Bay needs a multi purpose building that can offer from swimming to gymnastics!! A hurricane shelter is more important than that? Come on! Hurricane season only last so long, but kids are robbing and killing DAILY!!! Get unna priorites straight Gov't! In 10 more years we gonna be run out of this country by these very same youths!

  2. Hawksbill says:

    Teacher, CTA has nothing at the school I work at, which is a Government school…

    • Anonymous says:

      Hawksbill, FYI.  CTA is having classes at East End, North Side, Bodden Town, Prospect,

       Red Bay and Savannah,  Which school have I left out that you are at?  Uhmmmm.  Wondering where you could be then that you are not aware.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant move, it is about time someone in any government here started to put practical plans like this in place which will have a long term effect on reducing social deviant behaviour and taking some of the pressure off of working families.  Every child should have a safe place to be until their parents are finished work and also having interesting and fun activities to engage in is even better.  I do believe much good will come out of this program and I certainly will be donating to help.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why wait for government to pull something together. Why don't the parents volunteer for one hour one day a week and organize an event. I'm not just talking about someone else doing it I AM doing it as a concerned parent! What I have witnessed in the last two weeks by sponsoring a 1 hour afterschool program is so troubling that I have begun to try to get others in the community with our young children. They need us and all you have to do is go to the school speak to the principal's and JUST DO IT! These children need all of us moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunties and uncles. One hour a day can change a life!

  4. Anonymous says:

    50 years ago this problem did not exist. Children should have responsibilities-that will keep them busy.   Parents should stop feeling as if they need to entertaining children.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lots of things were different 50 years ago.  Let's give our children what they need now…supervision, inspiration, safety and positive adult role models.  I think it's a great programme.  Well done to all involved.

      • Anonymous says:

        By responsibilities, I think this person meant chores…..

        Something that would keep the child busy enough to keep them out of trouble.  That would also teach them to work hard and to take pride in what they are doing as they would be cleaning up after themselves.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I support the comments of Teacher, Teacher and I think this is a great program, but lets hearmore about it, because I too,  am aware of an alternative program taking place in all the Primary schools on the Island.  During school hours and after schools.  But my question is what is the plan of this CTA programme?, there is obviously none set up properly as far as I can see.  I am speaking about the Cayman Traditional Arts programme that is up and running on one leg.  This programme needs a steering committee, because I see it running into hot water if it is not properly organized.  It need to be addressed now, and since it is being held in the Public Schools, and involving the school children,  Mr  Anglin and Ms Rodrigues  should have a serious look at the programme, of letting the teachers of the schools and general public know what to expect.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Keep up this program and i seriously think in years to come there might be a decrease in crime.The kids that are causing all the trouble now had nowhere to go and nothing to do. Idle hands. This really is a great thing for these islands. I wish it had been available while i was growing up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As a word of caution, I hope the call for volunteers requires a police clearance.  This sort of activity is an attraction to child predators and all volunteers should be vetted.

  8. Teacher, Teacher says:

    Question to Mr Anglin and Ms. Rodriques.  Is this afterschool programe affiliated with the CTA.   Cayman Traditional Arts now being held after schools at all Government Schools on the Island with only one person running it. I would suggest  Mr Anglin and Ms. Rodrigues  looks into this ongoing program which now is a one man band.