Drivers who have been topping up at Esso gas stations throughout Grand Cayman in recent weeks have been donating to a youth crime prevention program in the process.
The gas retailers and Sol Petroleum Cayman Ltd. are donating 5 cents from the sale of each gallon to the Cayman Youth Anti-Crime Trust, a nonprofit that works through prevention and intervention programs aimed at Cayman’s youth.
The fundraiser, which began Feb. 17, continues until March 30.
The organization was formed in 2013 at the request of the government to implement prevention and intervention programs to address anti-social behavior and crime among local youth.
Every year, the anti-crime trust, known as Youth ACT, holds youth crime prevention days at Clifton Hunter and John Gray high schools, where Year 8 students attend workshops that focus on issues such as gangs, guns, substance abuse and bullying, among others.
The workshops are taught by a variety of experts in criminal justice and rehabilitation.
“Too often, we adults expect children to have the knowledge and experience to make good decisions, without providing them with the information that they need to make those decisions,” Youth ACT Chairwoman Bonnie Anglin said. “We need to invest in programs that build up and empower our kids and not prisons.”
Ms. Anglin said the program does more than simply tell kids “don’t do that.”
“We don’t say ‘no,’ we just teach them the causes, the penalties, the consequences of their actions,” Ms. Anglin said. “For example, we have a session on guns and we use that one to say ‘If you get a police record, do you realize that you can’t go to Miami, to Disney World, because you can’t get a visa? Instead of ‘don’t do it because it’s bad,’ we teach them the consequences.”
Ms. Anglin said the organization would like to expand its reach by putting on similar programs for primary school students and students in Year 10. The organization would also like to restart a vocational apprenticeship program, that began last year but was abandoned due to funding issues.
Ms. Anglin said the gas fundraiser is the organization’s biggest to date and is much needed, because the group has struggled to find consistent financial support.
“We have some support from the Ministry of Community Affairs, but my complaint is always stable funding,” Ms. Anglin said. “Every year we want to put on a program, we have to go back to the drawing board.”
She hopes that more local businesses will step up to support and become involved in the work of Youth ACT, as Sol Petroleum and Esso service stations have done.
“Our investment will go a long way in assisting the Youth ACT in funding their youth support programs in the schools, and we would like to see an expansion in the program to include more age groups,” Sol Petroleum General Manager Alan Neesome said in a press release.
“We at Sol encourage the community to support this initiative so that we all make a positive contribution in the lives of our young people.”