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Jul 8, 2021

Youth Hostel Undergoes Facelift and Change of Image

Six months ago we took you to the youth hostel at mile twenty-one on the George Price Highway in Rockville. You’ll recall the deplorable conditions of the facility, shown by the Ministry of Human Development. They promised to make the necessary upgrades to the facility. Well, they made good on that promise. Today the press was invited out to the hostel for a tour.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This is what the Princess Royal Youth Hostel looks like today – bright and cheery. It got a face-lift with a fresh coat of paint; new furniture; and fully refurbished restrooms and public spaces including a counseling room. But this renovation became necessary because back in December the home was in a deplorable state. According to Minister Dolores Balderamos Garcia, the hostel is getting a full rehabilitation from the physical upgrades to programmatic changes.


Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development & Families

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“I myself was a bit appalled because I didn’t think that is a way for children to live. I was almost in tears at seeing the condition especially of the girls and boys bathroom; the shower stalls were completely rusted out and the boys had to be backing water; the toilets were not flushed. It was really what I would say a horrible sight. Our purpose, at that time, within four months of so we pledged that we would get the media to come back and we are a little bit late but we wanted to finish especially with the painting; the provision of the new furniture; television for the girls and the boys need a TV now. But I am particularly pleased to see the beautiful colors and especially the programmes that are now underway.”


And now they are embarking on a rebranding of this hostel where it will no longer be seen a place to lock away “troubled” children but more of home where they can rehabilitate. There is already legislation in the pipeline to change the way this facility operate, as well as the image. Minister Balderamos Garcia explains this will bring systemic change, and they will also rename this facility.


Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“We want not so much to have this facility be seen as a certified institution and that certified institution carries a big baggage with it from the old colonial day when you would brand a child uncontrollable behavior and then lock them up. What we are moving towards for the drafting of the paper and the AG ministry for the legal drafting – is that we want to change this hostel to be a residential care facility as opposed to a certified institution. We believe that right on the cusp of eighteen children need to be treated a little differently; yes you will see locks on the doors but that is more for the security, you know. I believe that with the new legislation that we are bringing, we will be asking our magistrates not to take a child who is thirteen and say alright you go to hostel until you are eighteen; we really do not believe that is the correct approach and we will be asking for a review of the children’s case, perhaps every three months or every six months, depending on the circumstance. And we will try to involve the families more. Again, this is not a place to lock up a child who has done some stealing or something like that but it is a place to assist them out of the circumstance and help them to transition.”


The ministry says that they are engaging their thirty residents in new and dynamic programmes once they are at the institution. But now they are also looking at ways to help these residents make a smooth transition back into society and that starts with transitional homes:

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“We have put systems in place; we have sufficient staff now and we have protocols and we are really hoping that this place will be a welcoming place. Sometime they bring up the evangelical religions to give a little praise and worship for the children but also we have activities; we are going to try get into sewing; as you can see we have jersey for the boys on the court; get the children involved in different activities. So, I want to say that a facility such as this is not a place to lock up children but a place to assist with the true rehabilitation. I believe that this place, as nice as it is looking now, it should be a last resort for children in conflict with the law. It should be a last resort but also for the shortest period of time. We are looking at what is called transitional homes. We were just talking to a young lady who is seventeen years old and what happens when she becomes eighteen and wouldn’t be able to stay here anymore? We may need small homes, gain not institutions, but little homes that can be transition homes for those children to get into adulthood in a positive environment because we know it with the prisoners and the people at the Wagner’s facility, we know that if you go back where you came from you might get right back in the same activity that is negative and continue with the problems but we really don’t want that.”


Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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