Premier visits seniors and home for troubled youth

| 11/09/2013

(CNS): As the minister responsible for community affairs, Premier Alden McLaughlin called on residents at the Golden Age Home and also visited four young men who are currently resident at the Bonaventure Home for Boys, both in West Bay. Bonaventure, which was founded in 1974, was the first major service project of the Grand Cayman Rotary Club. The premier’s father, Alden McNee McLaughlin Sr, was one of the members of the club who came up with the idea to build a home to provides secure accommodation and rehabilitation for young boys risk between 13 and 18. Managed by the Children and Youth Services Foundation, a government owned company, the home provides programmes of rehabilitation; education and social development skills for young offenders.

The boys are sentenced via the court through the Department of Children and Family Services. A Therapeutic Community Programme has been in place at the home for more than a year and represents the adoption of principles that focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, encouraging young people to dig deep and confront their issues, typically within a peer-group setting. Instead of punishment, they learn the logical consequences of their actions.

The BBH underwent renovations to reflect the philosophy. There is an open dorm layout for staff observation and safety, classrooms, and a group meeting room. Residents have a daily schedule consisting of education, group counseling, individual counseling, meals, recreation, dorm cleaning, and check-ins.

Boys must achieve goals in six separate levels before being allowed to re-enter the lives of their families and schools on a full-time basis. Achievement of each level can take weeks to months. The programme can cater up to 10 boys; currently there are four, with each of them achieving at different levels.

At the Golden Age Home in West Bay, the premier met with clients and staff, where some have worked for 20 years or more. “It takes special people to do this type of work to get someone to stay that length of time,” McLaughlin said. “Someone is doing something right.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bonaventure has never worked for any of the youths that were sentenced or kept there. Stats can be easily tracked to see that most of the youth that go there eventually end up in Northward. Govt has spent alot of money over the years to keep these youth off the street. Out of sight out of mind till they are 18yrs old and then the trek to Northward begins. Until you have a caring staff who are trained in the TC model, which even includes the cook, the system will be ineffective and produce some of the same. Cayman Youth deserve better!

    • Bonaventure boy, I was there says:

      You are very wrong. I was there for 5yrs, first under the care of Mike and Laurie Vallani for 1.5yrs and then the remaining time under the care of the great Denny and Bonni Tomsu. This husband and wife team of parent-teachers were the absolute best thing to happen to the Bonaventure Home since its inception. Any issues or failings after has to do with the way the Home was managed or mismanaged by different employees, Government and associated parties. I know at least 10 Caymanian boys, now of course grown men, who are better off and some very successful, all for being under the impressive care of Denny and Bonni Tomsu, no doubt about that. There were many Caymanians and residents and businesses that helped the Home as needed. When I was there, Waldo Parchment and Hurley and Leoni Merren would provide groceries like milk, cereal and other items frequently. We had food, but the extra helpings from these 3 individuals was icing on the cake, so to speak. Malcolm Davies was another individual who, with his own money, purchased running shoes for us (16 pairs!) when the Tomsus started a track and field and road running program, he did what the Government department that was in charge wouldn’t do or cared to do. To add, some other individuals that contributed (forgive me if I forget a few, others who know the history of the Home can fill in the gaps) were: Jerry Harper, Alan Jones, Mike Spragg, Mr. and Mrs. Derek Wight, Mr. And Mrs. Mike Adam and Ms. Goldie Panton. Those are just off the top of my head, but there were more like I said. These individuals helped in any way they could for the betterment of at risk boys during my time with the Bonaventure Home. There’s a lot Government could learn just by asking people/businesses in the community and on the ground floor to what’s happening. People have great ideas on a better solution that works and produces results and saves money etc. “It takes a village” doesn’t always work, but for a lot of us at that time it did and showed us people cared. On reflection, things weren’t always great or prefect, I didn’t always like being there, but I’m sure glad I was. While no institutions such as the Bonaventure Home can be 100% effective in teaching and caring for those that are placed, I’d say your statement, “Bonaventure has never worked for any of the youths…” is way off the mark. However, over the years the positive numbers appear to be weak and something needs to change and Government needs to wipe the slate clean, look at where it failed for the Home and seek advice from different sources both local and international and mold a program that will fit into what works for most of the types of boys with different behavioural issues, lack of proper parenting or whatever the reason they are considered for and sent to the Home. Continue to fine tune as needed, etc. It’s really no different than raising one’s own child. And that just maybe the reason for mismanagement and failures over the years since I was there, not seeing the bigger picture, it’s just another holding centre for “bad boys” to some.

      • Anonymous says:

        Statistically you are one of the few who would have re-offended anyway.  Rehabilitation has no measurable impact on recidivism and certainly not worth the money that is wasted on it.  Criminality and the ability to change are almost certainly hard-wired by the time someone gets to this age.

        • Anonymous says:

          Huh? Do go and explain your comments further. After, please give your solution(s). Waiting…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well that takes care of the too old to work and the too young to work. Is there anyone else I can go to visit before I have to go see those unemployable, uneducated, lazy ass out of work Caymanians that are running around saying they voted for me? Civil Service, here I come.!!!!!

  3. Knot S Smart says:

    All I can find to write about this is that it is positive…

    However I am wary to say too much before I cause the ego of precious Alden to inflate further… Just kidding Mr Premier…

    You are doing an excellent job and I am proud of you. Keep up the good work…