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Dec 20, 2021

43 At-Risk Youths Recognized for Taking a Positive Step Towards Change

This morning at the Radisson a cohort of forty-three young men was acknowledged for completing a five-day retreat organized by the Leadership Intervention Unit and several of its counterparts.  The idea was to present certificates of completion to these individuals following a trip to Mountain Pine Ridge last week.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

It is perhaps the only public recognition that some of these young men will ever receive for having participated in something positive.  Despite the challenges they faced in the wilderness of Mountain Pine Ridge last week, forty-three of them were present at an award ceremony here in Belize City this morning.


William Dawson

William Dawson, Chair, Leadership Intervention Unit

“Many of these guys who we are working with have not really finished the conventional educational system and so giving them an acknowledgment for being out there in the wilderness for five days is quite an achievement for them and if you have noticed it, they are very happy for receiving this incentive in the form of a certificate.”


That feeling of happiness comes from a weeklong retreat at Camp D’Silva where these at-risk youths, all of whom are affiliated with various Belize City gangs, were able to dialog with each other in a meaningful attempt to resolve the many issues that plague them.


Brandon Baptist

Brandon Baptist, Resident, Police Street

“Di programs dehn and di camp weh wi gaan da mi wahn nice lee experience fi me, yoh undastand, ih mek I open my mind more.  Ih mek I sih things different because now, like we deh round all kinda people and we learn fi live with each other, yoh know.  We talk to each other, have fun together and nobody noh feel no kinda way, yoh undastand, everybody feel happy then.”


The initiative that has brought these young men together is fully supported by the Belize Police Department.  Through the efforts of the Leadership Intervention Unit, a lot is being done to maintain a ceasefire among feuding gangs.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“My message to you directly this morning is this, you have lived the life.  You have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.  Some of you have been shot multiple times.  Some of you have been shot at multiple times.  Some of you have lost your brother, lost your friends, lost your family members and, in some cases, lost your children to the gun violence in our streets.  My Question to you is, having been at Mountain Pine Ridge for that week, all of you together, in the same environment interacting with each other, I saw you pushing the bus together as a team, I am sure that if you all did not push that bus as a team that bus would not have made it up the hill.  It shows that when you work together we can achieve a lot.”


Brandon Baptist is a key figure in turning things around in his Police Street neighborhood.


Brandon Baptist

“We noh think negative towards each other, we just love each other and find out that we could help each other and love each other, and I woulda really want we continue do this to mein, check, cause fi be real, ah love all ah my people dehn, yoh undastand me and if di people dehn could see it and could continue help we, help we and push we, wahn mek it far.”


From the perspective of the Ministry of Youth & Sports, this is a step in the right direction.


Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Youth & Sports

“It’s a positive start and I personally feel very optimistic that we can see a difference.  You have seen over the past three weeks there have been, if I am not mistaken, no crime-related to these issues and I hope that it can continue this way.  I think that programs like these, the work programs that we have put out for these young men to be engaged in society has given them somewhat a [sense of] self-awareness that, you know what, I can make a difference.”


The police department has committed to providing all available resources towards steering these young men away from a life of crime.  That responsibility was reiterated by Dr. Richard Rosado at this morning’s event.


Dr. Richard Rosado, Commander, Eastern Division

“It’s basically to empower the marginalized through social development programs and therapeutic intervention.  Thus, we intend to launch a wide range of programs to enhance positive youth development and strengthen the family.  We intend to provide support mechanisms to divert them from crime.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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