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IPAD camp making a difference

Identity, Purpose, Attitude, Destiny moulding 130 youth

Monday, July 17, 2017

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Over 130 youngsters from across six high schools in western Jamaica are now participating in the third staging of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Residential Summer Camp.

Held under the theme 'IPAD', an acronym for Identity, Purpose, Attitude and Destiny, the programme was conceptualised in 2015 by Deputy Commissioner of Police (APC) Novelette Grant.

“IPAD was developed as a violence-prevention strategy, then it focused on youth in Westmoreland; to help the younger ones build the necessary resilience and social skills required to cope with the risk factors they face in their homes, communities, schools and the wider society, and assist them to build healthy relationships.

“Simultaneously the programme involves parents, teachers and community stakeholders to increase some of the protective factors that can reduce vulnerabilities and risk of violence participation and involvement,” DCP Grant informed.

Now in its third year, the IPAD camp has been expanded to all of the JCF's five policing areas, with two camps scheduled to run at the same time in each region. The dates and locations are: July 9 - 21: St James at the Spot Valley High and Westmoreland at the Petersfield High; July 23 — August 4: Area 2 at the Iona High and Area 3 at the Central High and August 7–19: Areas 4 and 5 at the Innswood High.

Senior camp coordinator Inspector Jacqueline Dillion, who oversees fellow police officers who are deployed as facilitators at all the camps, said she was happy now that the reach of IPAD has been extended.

“We are excited to welcome St James and the other divisions to the IPAD summer programme this year. This camp represents a critical partnership between citizens and the police, and we are pleased with the results from the past two years.

“Indeed, the programme has transformed the lives of dozens of students who participated in 2015 and 2016. Many have turned from antisocial behaviour, and even criminal involvement, and have now embraced leadership positions within their communities and schools.

Inspector Dillon cited, for instance, that “two of the students in last year's camp were in gangs in St James who were on the verge of expulsion from their school. However, with the intervention of the camp they have been allowed to go back to school and sat CSEC exams in June of this year.”

While some of the young participants remain hesitant, many still had a heightened interest in the IPAD camp. Tiana McPherson, 17, a student of the Institution of International Recognised Qualification, who is participating at the St James location, shared that, “when the instructors called my parents, I wasn't too excited because too many police officers were going to be there. However, since I have been here the facilitators have emphasised on qualities that we lack like, for example, respect, which I think this will help us to become better young people.”

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