After-school programme needs funds

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An after-school programme that caters to 1,400 children, five-days-a-week is under threat unless new funding can 
be found. 

The programme was an overnight success when it launched in 2011 and has grown to provide activities, from archery and flight training to skateboarding and drama, to children in the public school system between 3 and 5.30pm every day. 

Set up in response to concerns that many potentially-vulnerable children were roaming the streets unsupervised after school, the programme has been credited with reducing 
petty crime.  

But as the project has expanded, so have the costs. And with a change of government and budget talks looming, its founders are seeking private sector funding to ensure its long-term viability. 

Michael Myles, the government’s at-risk youth officer, said the take up of the programme showed there was a significant need in the community. He said the Extended After School Programme had begun as a pilot project offering mostly sports-based activities to about 60 children with just ten staff. 

Now there are 160 staff providing activities for about 1,400 children. The estimated cost of running the programme beyond this September at existing participation levels is $560,000 
per year. 

Mr. Myles said: “If we don’t get more funding before September, there won’t be a programme. We are looking for the corporate community to get involved, either by sending volunteers or by providing funding.” 

Government has committed to funding 85 per cent of the costs of the programme, though that could change after the election. 

Mr. Myles said funds went toward paying a small stipend to staff, providing transport and snacks for children and training staff. 

There are 6,000 children in the public school system and he would like the programme to be able to cater to all of them. He said the mentoring aspect was more important than the activities. Some of the most vulnerable children in the public school system attend after-school activities and staff are being trained to spot signs of abuse or neglect. 

Mr. Myles said the programme had started as a part of a national crime-fighting strategy. He said it was a proactive step to prevent children from being drawn into crime.  

“You can have serious problems when a child has nothing structured or productive to do,” he said. “Research shows that is when kids get drawn into drugs or petty crime or start to become involved in gangs. 

“Single parent homes are perhaps the most common social structure in the Cayman Islands,” he added. “There are a lot of kids left home alone or out in the community with very little activity or supervision.” 

Mr. Myles, who used to run children’s homes in Grand Cayman, added: “I would say 99 per cent of children that ended up at these homes were there because their parents were not able to guide and protect them.  

“By the time they came to me they had serious academic problems, they had behavioural problems, multiple criminal offences or they had dropped out of school. We need to get to them earlier.” 

Private sector funding for the Extended After School Programme is administered through its partners in the charitable sector, Cayman Outreach and George Town Sports Club. 

Several private companies already contribute funds. BAF insurance company was the latest to join a list of sponsors that includes PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Dart and Kirk’s Supermarket. 

Announcing a $5,500 grant to the programme last month, BAF General Manager Terence Spencer said: “We at BAF believe that everyone has a responsibility to ensure the overall success of our children and it absolutely takes a village to bring that to fruition.” 

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service also provides support to the programme through its funding of the skateboarding club. 

Speaking at the launch of the club in February, Police Commissioner David Baines said it was a great way to keep youngsters from being drawn into crime by giving them a positive outlet. 

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Sean Myers attempts a trick at the after-school skateboarding club.
Photo: James Whittaker
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9 COMMENTS

  1. I must comment to say that both Government and the private sector should contribute towards this program continuing.
    We must all realize that these children are our responsibility. While others may say nay, think about getting them off the streets after school, think about your business and think about the loss of lives unnecessarily because these children did not have a chance. We never know what tomorrow may bring; one of our own children may be lost to the hands of these kids who were not given a chance.
    Mr Myles should never have to go this far asking for funding. Shame on you Government and private sector for allowing this threat to the kids.
    Further more the talk of not knowing after May General election what will happen is nonsense. Right now there are politicians walking around begging for votes by saying Vote for me and after I get in I will fix everything People please do not be Dumb. Stop voting in people on promises. If you are not community involved now, why should I be foolish enough to believe your promises. Caymanians wake up from your slumber. The program being talked about will effect you one way or the other, so make those who want a vote on a promise sign a Promissory note. Government and private sector talks about there is no money. People that is all Bull, do not believe it, because they all are getting the same salary and living High, three and four businesses, and they tell you that our children must suffer? For once in your lives pay attention to who cares.

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  2. The Cayman Islands has without any question of doubt the BEST Skatepark in the World. The BEST Skatepark in the World The Black Pearl was designed, created, built and paid for with Private Funds and is cherished and loved by local skateboarders and their families as well as skateboarders and their families from all over the World – it exists for ALL Skateboarders to enjoy, local and international. With this knowledge in mind at all times – and the Global proven experience that Private Funding and NOT Government funding is the WIN-WIN recipe for success – The Cayman Islands has incredibly talented skateboarders who shall thrive best through Corporate Private Sector Sponsorships as is the path well trodden by superstar skateboarders and X-treme Sports Heroes. It is time to support the Best Skatepark in the World and the Vision of the X-Games in Cayman. Yes the Cayman Islands is listed as a potential X-Games Site. With the X-Games certification already in hand and private company backing – The Black Pearl and our Caymanian and International Skateboarders are able to and shall bring the Pearl to it’s intended International Championship Glory – all it takes is the right mix of Corporate Sponsors local and International. I too am here to help as from the very beginning – at the design and creation phase of this Phenomenal Sports Facility by Master Champion of Champions Mike Bell. Next step is to call me – the skateboarders all know me. I have the solution and it is not government sponsorship. Let us fix this and NOW……. so that our talented Caymanian Skateboarders who are on track to be Global Champions can do so aligned to the correct private sector sponsors – local and international. Governments do not belong in the mix – never did and never will – there is not one government funded skateboarder in the big leagues on the planet. Let us Get Real and Get Motivated – Sponsorship HAS to come from the Private Sector. X-Games and Superstardom for the local Caymanian Skateboarders and Sports Tourism unleashed for the benefit of the local and international skateboarding community who all absolutely love the Black Pearl Skatepark. This is NOT about government funding and sponsorship – Private Sector funding and sponsorships are the BEST and only solution.

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  3. When is this madness going to stop? When are we as a society going to start having serious discussions about accountability and personal responsibility?

    It is not the responsibility of the government (i.e. the taxpayers) to take care of these children. This is the responsibility of the parents and the burden to fund this after-school programme should also be the responsibility of the parents (and not the government).

    The government already carries the burden of funding free or mostly free primary and secondary education for the majority of children in the Cayman Islands. Are we not going to require some form of contribution from these deadbeat parents? Is it not their responsibility to provide structured and productive things for their children to do?

    It is also time that we stop pandering to these single parent homes. For the most part these single parents are losers that are incapable of exercising good judgement. It is the fault of these parents why their children are left home alone or out in the community with very little activity or supervision.

    The parents of these delinquent children need to be identified and charged with child abuse for letting their children roam the streets unsupervised. These are the same individuals that, despite not being able to support their existing children, continue to have more children thinking that it is the responsibility of the government to provide for both them and their children.

    We as a society refuse to tackle the fundamental problem of failed parenting; and until we gather the courage to tackle the root of the problem we will never be able to implement any meaningful solutions.

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  4. LET US ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS POEM
    CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE
    Dorothy Law Nolte

    If a child lives with criticism,
    he learns to condemn.
    If a child lives with hostility,
    he learns to fight.
    If a child lives with fear,
    he learns to be apprehensive.
    If a child lives with pity,
    he learns to feel sorry for himself.
    If a child lives with ridicule,
    he learns to be shy.
    If a child lives with jealousy,
    he learns what envy is.
    If a child lives with shame,
    he learns to feel guilty.
    If a child lives with encouragement,
    he learns to be confident.
    If a child lives with tolerance,
    he learns to be patient.
    If a child lives with praise,
    he learns to be appreciative.
    If a child lives with acceptance,
    he learns to love.
    If a child lives with approval,
    he learns to like himself.
    If a child lives with recognition,
    he learns that it is good to have a goal.
    If a child lives with sharing,
    he learns about generosity.
    If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
    he learns what truth and justice are.
    If a child lives with security,
    he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.
    If a child lives with friendliness,
    he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.
    If you live with serenity,
    your child will live with peace of mind.

    With what is your child living?

    ___________________________________________________________________________
    SK8 ON SK8TRS – U R 4Ever Awesome –
    To Thine Own Self Be True Will Shakespeare Applemom

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  5. Of course we will find wanna-be politicians or persons who are not from Cayman saying that the government or private sector is not responsible, but the fact remains that when one of these kids grow up without some sort of good education or hands on training, and robs your home and shoots a family member then you will blame the government and the police. But now some uncaring persons will call these children delinquent children with dead-beat parents. Hello!!, Cut some of government spending and assist parents with these children through the school program. We have o guarantee what our children will do or grow up to be. Remember the first bank robbery was carried out by Jessie James and his brother, a pastor’s sons. So unless you are a barren Enoch then you do not know what it is to love a child or to know a parents feeling to loose one. These little ones need some love and caring, some training and support from the community. It is our responsibility whether we like it or not. I remember many years ago the children were raised, cared and loved by every one in the community, not only their parents. Where has all of this gone. Yet we have some hard nose, selfish uncaring persons who can afford to send their children to overseas college on government money, yet they want to blame the parents of those who did not make it to that opportunity. For those of you who have it I say be careful of blaming those parents who do not have it and are struggling with their children. I have been around long enough to have seen children which I know was brought up on the streets of Cayman, walking barefoot without food, is now Managers, Bankers and Business owners. I am proud of them, How do you think they made it. It was because the Government and those private sectors who cared about them, gave them a chance.

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  6. I agree with Applemom. Grand Cayman has the world’s 2nd largest cement skatepark in the world. That is the reason we began vacationing in Grand Cayman over 10 years ago. We will be returning very shortly and are disappointed to hear that the skatepark is temporarily closed. We feel for the kids on the island as there are not near as many activities available as there are in the USA. The value of the skatepark to your kids on your island is invaluable. I sure hope to see the skatepark opened again by the time we visit. Not only so that my amateur skateboard son and his girlfriend can skate and film while we are there but so that the island kids can continue to benefit from the 2nd world’s largest skatepark. Applemom, maybe I will get to see you again. It has been years since Steve introduced us.

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  7. Hunter,

    Let me see if I understand what you are saying.

    If I don’t hand over my hard earned money to the government so that it can be used by deadbeat parents to help offset the costs of raising their children then one of those children will some day rob my home and possibly shoot one of my family members.

    I now understand your reference to Jessie James as I already feel like I have a gun to my head.

    I agree that the government needs to reduce expenditure. If fact, with your support, I would like to propose that the government immediately implement a nominal school fee at all public schools. This fee will help to offset the ever escalating costs associated with providing educational services at the schools. Additionally, the fee should have a positive impact on overall government expenditure and greatly assist in the production of a balanced budget for the Cayman Islands.

    I would also like to propose a new family planning program; as it appears that poor family planning might be a significant contributing factor to some of the problems that exist within the country today. The main thrust of this program would be to provide private sector funded educational and contraceptive services. This program might not have an immediate impact on the bottom line but is more of a long term initiative to reduce the number of people that become dependent on government services, ultimately helping to reduce the long term social services debt that will have to be financed by the taxpayer

    For every child that has made it out of poverty I can count ten others that have not been as fortunate. These individuals are the present and future car jackers, burglars and killers and it would be foolish to think that money alone can solve the problems that exist within the family units in the Cayman Islands. These problems are far more complex and we need to ensure that we fully understand the root causes (one being poor parenting) or we will never be able to implement any meaningful solutions.

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  8. I personal can’t understand why it can not be self funding if the budget is based on the 30 school weeks and their are 1400 kids and it only costs 560K then the parents only need to pay 13.33 per week per child or CI 2.67 per day for the scheme to work.

    This country cannot afford to be a socialist state any longer. When are the citizens of Cayman going to learn if you use a service you have to pay for it personally and not expect someone else to pay for it. This goes for everything the government does – it all cost money and should be self funded directly by the end users.

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