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Apr 18, 2013

200 students graduate from Gang Resistance Education

Today more than two hundred students from the Buttonwood Bay Nazarene Primary School, the Queen Street Baptist School and the Saint Luke Methodist Primary School graduated from a new program in their schools called Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT for short. The program was introduced to Belize in 2009 by the US Embassy and was launched in three Belize City schools as a pilot project not long after, through partnership with the US Embassy, the Ministry of Education, the Belize Police Department and the National Drug Abuse Control Council. Today’s graduation ceremony was held at the Nazarene Church and freelance reporter Mike Rudon was there to share the proud moment with the students.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

More than two hundred students gathered today at the successful culmination of the GREAT program in their schools. The Ministry of Education admits that integration into the schools wasn’t easy, but now it’s a done deal, and being administered at the schools by PC Mario Coc, attached to the Community Policing Unit.

 

Mario Coc

Mario Coc, Community Policing Unit

“The program is GREAT, Gang Resistance Education and Training. The program is more on giving the students method or instruments to stay away from the gangs. We give them anger management, conflict resolutions and also the truths and myths about gangs. So it is more instruments to stay away from the recruitments of other adults in the gang. We gave them real scenarios whereby we have different people from different areas coming together and working in a group. So if one is from Jane Usher and one is from Martins and they can’t agree, we put them in a group so that at the end of the day, they will solve the problem that we give them and then they become friends. And we have seen that and now we don’t have any problem with them; that they are mingling together.”

 

Dale Anthony

Dale Anthony, Ministry of Education

“It took almost two years because we couldn’t just from the Ministry just go into the schools and implement the program. We needed to get permission from the managers of these schools. So the principals; we had to constantly be having meetings until they’ve decided that the students had something worthwhile for us to do.”

 

The program teaches students at the primary level to deal with and walk away from gangs and drugs, all too common problems in communities today. And from all indications we got today, the lessons have been extremely successful.

 

Mario Coc

“At first we didn’t have reception that well from the students itself, but from the schools it was very receptive due to the students being from different areas of the city. So at the ending of the program we all became friends: students, teachers and police officers.”

 

Melanie Cadiz

Melanie Cadiz, Student

“Well I’ve learnt that our education is an important thing in our lives to keep on moving and why gangs are not good and what are the consequences of being in a gang.”

 

Malik Leslie, Student

“I learn the education that it is something good to get and if you graduate you can go to UB and you can get a better job than if you just go to high school and go for a job.”

 

Malik Leslie

Marlenie Montoya, Student

“I learn that school is important because it is not good being on the street like being a part of a gang or being a killer or killing people on the street. Other family hurt when one of their family members die.”

 

Mario Coc

“As far as I’m concerned as the instructor, teaching these programs, it has made a big impact on the class that I have been teaching and I can see the impact.”

 

Melanie Cadiz

“You could talk to your friends and explain to them why it is not good to be in a gang. It helps a lot and it makes you feel a little more better. And it helps a lot to your friends because learning about this is a good experience and being in a gang is not good. And I could tell all those young kids outside to don’t be in a gang and just keep on moving and to learn that an education is good to be a good person.”

 

So what’s next for the GREAT program?

 

Mario Coc

“We continue to teach in other schools. Presently we have St. Joseph, St. Ignatius, Salvation Army doing the program. And the other instructors that have completed this program will also continue to teach at different schools. Also the ones from elementary who have completely the elementary six weeks program, will go on to middle lessons now. So it is a continuous thing. When they complete the middle, then it is a conclusion to their training.”

 

Dale Anthony

“It started here in Belize City, but students have been graduated in the Toledo District, in Cayo District and in the Orange Walk District. And with the help of the U.S. Embassy, no doubt it will be countrywide pretty soon.”

 

Mike Rudon for News Five.

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1 Response for “200 students graduate from Gang Resistance Education”

  1. Storm says:

    I hope it saves a child or two from making a life-destroying choice.

    We need to teach the parents, too — girls, don’t get pregnant unless you are married to a man with an honest job; boys, learn to love the joys of being a real father and husband; all kids, get as much education as you can and need to get a decent, honest job.

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