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Mar 2, 2018

A GREAT Day for 508 students

As of December of last year fifteen thousand youths have graduated from the Gang Resistance and Education Training programme of the Police Department. Today another five hundred and eight students received their certificates at the Bliss Institute for Creative Arts. Last year the students participated in a number of activities to help them to make good decisions at home and school. Andrea Polanco shares more from today’s ceremony.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Over five hundred students graduated from the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program. Students from ten schools in Belize City – one high school and nine primary schools, participated in the life skills, gang and violence prevention training in 2017. GREAT is being used to fight delinquency, youth violence, and gang involvement through school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed courses.


Inspector Elroy Carcamo, G.R.E.A.T Focal Point

Inspector Elroy Carcamo

“The students participated in different lectures facilitated activities with the police officers, community policing officers, and we also had patrol officers that conducted the GREAT Program, as well. They were taught about the myth and fact about gang and violence. They were also taught about the areas of setting goals, making decisions and having empathy for one another and also how to do deal with minor conflicts within the school setting. Bullying is one of the topics that we are dealing with right now because we are seeing a little rise in bullying in the school, so we are dealing with bullying in the elementary component of the program.”


St Luke Methodist students Samantha Alamina and John Burke did the G.R.E.A.T Program last year and today they received their certificates. They share how they resist gangs and bad influences.


Samantha Alamina

Samantha Alamina, G.R.E.A.T Graduate,

“The GREAT Program is something really educational and especially that it teaches you about the gangs because gangs are not good for you and once you join them they are bad influences towards you. They lead you to death and you can even end up in jail because of gangs. It really gave me a lot of knowledge and the different ways they try to bribe you to go into gangs and it really taught me a lot – how they do it and not to join it.”


John Burke, G.R.E.A.T Graduate

“I enjoyed the scenarios, the act and when we did the act on the scenarios. I enjoyed Ms Pop. She taught us well. She made us had a fun time, understand the program well, understand the meaning of G.R.E.A.T and what it is all about.”


Andrea Polanco

“Do you live in a community where you see bad things happening?”


John Burke

John Burke

“I live in a community where every day I see something bad happen. I live in two communities and both of them have gangs. One is behind Complex and the St Martin’s Area.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, you see all of these criminal activities happening; bad influence for you as a young boy. Having done this GREAT Program, do you feel that you are well equipped to be able to avoid these kinds of influences?”


John Burke

“Yes, ma’m. I feel like I strong enough fi fight through it and nuh follow weh I see other people do and follow my own path and achieve my dreams weh I want to be. It helps us at a young age so that we don’t follow the older ones because they are not setting the example for us, we have to set it for ourselves because they are doing bad things and we will pick that up as young as we are.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, if someone comes to you say, ‘ let’s rob that house over there; or let’s do this or do that’ what would you say ?”

John Burke

“No. No. No. I mi deh inna the GREAT Program and they teach me a lot about gang and violence.”


Carcamo says that G.R.E.A.T positively influences the participants whether they are in school or in their communities.

Inspector Elroy Carcamo

“What we have noticed is that most of our kids when they participate in the G.R.E.A.T program look for other programs to participate in and that is something good. They are looking for other outlets and activities where they can spend their energy instead of being participating in behavioral problems and so forth.”


Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

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