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Apr 11, 2018

Coast Guard Recruits Young Seagoers

Another initiative was launched today in the fight against the violence and crime affecting the high crime zones in the City. A youth cadet corps has been established as an arm of the Belize Coast Guard. Young students, between the ages eight and twelve years, are being encouraged to join the programme and learn life skills that will keep them away from the hands of the gangs.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Gang Resistance Education and Training program, GREAT, is lauded by the Belize Police Department as a success in deterring children, a majority of whom are of primary school age, from joining and participating in gang activity.  The achievement is seen as a major first step in dissuading young boys from involvement in gang culture, so much so that the Belize Coast Guard is emulating the initiative by creating a youth cadet corps of its own.  At its helm is Lieutenant Gilroy Lewis.

 

Gilroy Lewis

Lt. Gilroy Lewis, Belize Coast Guard

“Twelfth of December, 2017, after searching and searching, commandant decided that Lieutenant Lewis, I have this task that I want you to accomplish.  Go to the schools, discuss with the principals and find out who best is able to benefit from this cadet program.  So I said, “Sir, what is it that you want to impart?  What is your message?”  He said, “I want us to get, in the first instance, fifty children and we will continue by 2020 to have two hundred children.”  What will you do with all these children sir?  He said, “Officer listen, I want you to teach them drill.  I want you to teach them life skills.  I want the female officers to discuss with those young children female matters because you can’t do that.  I want that they should learn music, they should learn sports and they should be in school.”

 

It’s a proposal that sets out to follow in the footsteps of a similar programme being carried out by the Belize Police Department through its arm of community policing.  Sergeant Elroy Carcamo has been instrumental in that effort.

 

Elroy Carcamo

Sgt. Elroy Carcamo, Youth Cadet Corps

“Our cadet corps programme is governed by a constitution.  It also has its bylaws which deals with the different rules and regulations that the cadet members, the cadet instructors need to participate with.  It has a mission, a vision, and a goal.  It also has a motto, and the motto of the cadet corps is “Live and Learn.  Think Positive.”  It has a pledge, the cadet corps itself has a pledge which was formulated in 2004, and we also have our own logo for the cadet corps, our own flag with its insignia and we have two sets of uniforms.”

 

Aside from replicating that model, the coast guard is also seeking the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, both local and regional.

 

Captain Levy

Captain Levy, U.S. Representative

“I think there are three things that really help those programs to succeed.  It’s consistent training; consistent programming for the cadets to make sure that everyone is always engaged.  Just like, inspector you talked about the thirteen weeks, you know, it’s good to have that programme in place so that the cadets know what their next training programme is and also having that shared identity.  So we talk about the Belizean coast guard and how it identifies Belizean coast guard cadets and the police cadets.  I think it’s very cool to have that identity from each of the organizations but also have an identity as Belizeans.”

 

The idea says Lieutenant Gilroy Lewis, is to provide an alternative to children who are being preyed upon by inner city gangs for recruitment.

 

Lt. Gilroy Lewis

“You and I are familiar that the crime situation in Belize City is rampant and the gangs are targeting not me and you, but kids as young as eight, nine and also teenagers.  As a result, we choose to work with kids from ages eight to twelve.  But if you are thirteen, we still could work with you and what we want to do is to offer hope, is to offer a safe place weh paat if you have talent, if you are, I would say, have whatever uniqueness about you, we can enhance that.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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