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Apr 26, 2018

Youths Recognized at ‘Resiliency Awards’

About a hundred at-risk youths were recognized today for staying the course despite their exposure to crime and other societal ills. Many had been caught up in the cycle of violence but chose to reform and follow a productive path. At a ceremony, held by the Community Rehabilitation Department, they were lauded for having the discipline to change their lives. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

“Through Adversity We Rise” was the theme for an award ceremony held today inside the auditorium at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts in which ninety-nine youths were recognized for beating the odds and not giving in to bad influence. Three different types of awards were issued today: the ‘On the Right Path’ Award, the ‘Milestone Achievement’ Award and the ‘Resiliency Spotlight’ Award to nominated persons from across the country rose above their risky circumstances and on a positive track.

 

Starla Bradley

Starla Bradley, Director, Community Rehabilitation Department

“The ones that we are recognizing here have been at their lowest point, and they have really taken advantage of the services provided not just by this department, but the support from their families and other agencies. And they have found that power and strength from within to make steps towards achieving a more productive life for themselves.”

 

They were recognized for having persevered despite their history of abuse, exploitation, neglect, poverty and more.  These are among the many challenges they ordinarily face, many having been caught up in the criminal justice system.

 

Starla Bradley

“All of these young people who are being awarded today have been in the criminal justice system, which means that they’ve either been at risk for committing offenses, have committed criminal or status offenses like uncontrollable behavior; some of them have been in the Youth Hostel, some have been in the Wagner’s Youth Facility. And so it is often very difficult when a young person becomes involved in the juvenile justice system; quite often they kicked out of school even before they are actually convicted. They end up with a criminal record and that has its own stigma and it is very hard for them to get back in school and find a job.”

 

Meet twenty-one-year-old Raheem Bailey. He is a graduate of James Garbutt SDA primary school and Maud Williams High School. Two years ago, he was shot multiple times; it was a third attempt made on his life at age nineteen. But Bailey says he’s reformed. He has a passion for music, but also successfully completed the CRD’s apprenticeship progammme as an IT assistant. Aside from aspiring to be a music producer, he says that he wants to pursue his associate’s degree in Information Technology.

 

Raheem Bailey

Raheem Bailey, Milestone Achievement Awardee

“It help me very much in achieving in technology. It help me to do different things like reprogram computer, reprogram phones and fix phones and then deh. And it helps me in the business work field to make I become more professional. I woulda advice the youths dehn fi come ina di programme and make dehn be somebody ina life. It is never too late no care if yo young or old or the tragedy in your past, you can always become somebody ina life at this present moment.”

 

Jenny Bonilla

Jenny Bonilla, Resiliency Spotlight Awardee

“I wanted to be a part of the justice system but I wanted to be someone that would be very respected and highly look upon and which I thought judges had that. I will build my way up from here. I still have that same goal; I still want to be a judge one day.”

 

According to Director of the Community Rehabilitation Department, Starla Bradley, the hope is that the award ceremony would positively impact other at-risk youths.

 

Starla Bradley

“They are not often celebrated; they are often judged and this is an opportunity for us as a department to encourage them, to motivate them, to continue to inspire them and hope that they will inspire other people because we have invited young persons from other schools and other programmes that deal with at risk populations so that they can see that it can be done; we can change the change is possible.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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