Diversion programmes sought for troubled Cayman youth

Programme Coordinator and Liaison Officer for at Risk Youth Michael Myles expects more cooperation from the police. 

His message came at a breakfast and press briefing held by the Cayman Outreach Association and visiting representatives from the Off the Street organisation.  

The breakfast, which was held at the Governor’s Square conference room on Friday, 11 May, was an opportunity for the press to meet those partnering with the ministry of education to provide diversion programmes for young people. 

“In our fight against bullying, drug and alcohol abuse and crime, we are starting in the primary schools because by the time these children reach eleven-years-old, we have pretty much lost them. We need community policing in our schools. This is a critical piece of what is needed among other things but we just can’t seem to get the top management in the police force to meet us half way with what we are trying to do, yet we are throwing millions of dollars at them,” said Mr. Myles.  

He added that policing was about more than simply arresting people. “Its also about engaging the people and creating relationships that centre around a theme of diversion. We have to go where they are. Education has been an easy target but there are other areas to consider.”  

Apart from the challenge of getting agencies in the Cayman Islands to participate, Mr. Myles said, “Volunteerism in Cayman is dead and we do have to pay people for what ever they do. However, we also need to be able to realise that when something is not producing results we need to get rid of it instead of hiring people in those areas and simply compounding the stagnation. People are telling us about their limitations despite getting millions of dollars in funding, instead of telling us what they can do.” 

Some positives to report include after school programmes that now give students the extra care and attention that many of them are in need of. The Behaviour and Educational Support Team is the catalyst for these new after school programmes, which allows youngsters to have assistance with homework, in addition to availing them of programmes like swimming, soccer, tutoring services and skateboarding. So far there are hundreds of children across the Cayman Islands who are benefiting from the programme. 

Derick Martinez, who was visiting from the Off the Street organisation in America to oversee a skateboarding day, which took place at the Grand Harbour on Saturday, 12 May, and featured performances by former gang members who have changed their lives and are now taking a message of deterrence to youth around the world. He explained the philosophy behind the multi-agency team approach to diversion.  

“This will require a collaboration of different people until it becomes as fine polished programme that is very effective.” Mr. Martinez noted that the only factor for measuring success would be time. 

BEST prog

From left, Project Coordinator Michael Myles, Pastor Bob, Off the Street’s John Martinez, Craft Teacher Ralph Bodden, Off The Street’s Derrik Martinez, Cameraman Noah Henry and April Lewis of Cayman Outreach. – PHOTO:STUART WILSON

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