South Camp juveniles impress OAS
Ambassador Nestor Mendez, assistant secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), made it abundantly clear on Monday that he was very impressed with the impact of the New Path project, during a visit to the South Camp Juvenile Correctional and Remand Centre for Girls.
"I have had the opportunity to see many projects implemented by the OAS across the Americas," said Mendez. "Many projects that have to do with youth and vulnerable populations, and I have to tell you that I am very impressed, and I am very moved. I want to congratulate the staff but, most of all, the young people who are participating in these programmes."
The ambassador led a delegation comprising representatives of other support agencies for A New Path: Promoting a Healthy Environment and Productive Alternatives for Juvenile Remandees and Offenders in Jamaica to get a first-hand take on the activities and their impact on the target audience.
Jamaica is among the member states of the OAS selected for participation in the regional initiative to reduce recidivism and, ultimately, crime and violence by improving the quality of, and access to, reintegrations services, technical training and individualised psychosocial/emotional services for detainees in juvenile institutions. The project is made possible by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented in collaboration with the Trust for Americas, a non-profit affiliate of the OAS.
Guided by superintendent in charge of the institution, Maulette White, the delegation visited the medical centre, the OAS Counselling Room, multi-purpose playing field and canteen, before settling in to the renovated chapel with partitions to facilitate two classrooms - all of which had been renovated/retrofitted under A New Path. It was there that the youngsters provided some insight into their progress during a musical recital showcasing skills on the clarinets, drums, violins and recorders, before going through a yoga routine. During the round-table discussion which followed, the teenagers spoke about how the activities had and continue positively impacted their minds and bodies.
For this, they won the respect and admiration of Mendez.
"Perhaps you didn't choose to be here, but the fact that you're here and you're making use of this opportunity to turn your lives around speaks to the kind of individuals, the individual fortitude, the value of your person as a citizen of Jamaica. I want to congratulate you on behalf of the Organisation of American States," he said.