Friday November 29, 2019 saw the launch of a six-month transformational Youth Peace Ambassadors Programme at the Youth Training and Rehabilitation Centre (YTRC). The programme is being conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP). The overall goal is to reduce rates of re-offence, also called recidivism rates, at the YTRC.
The programme aims to provide youth with the training and skills to become Peace Ambassadors and Youth Mentors so that they can become positive role models within YTRC and the wider society.
The prospect of life after detention for young persons can be overwhelming. Those who have been released often find it difficult to successfully reintegrate into society, causing some to fall back into traps that led them into detention in the first place. This important programme aims to help young people build their resilience and give them the skills that will help them re-enter society as prepared and confident individuals.
The programme started off with each young person undertaking a psychosocial assessment conducted by a team of trained social workers and counsellors. Based on the results of the assessments, a programme of psychosocial interventions was developed and will include sessions such as Strengths and Life Goals, Conflict Resolution, Dealing with Trauma, Leadership, Gender Sensitivity, Anger Management and much more. The second three months will focus on skills building where youth will be exposed to a series of workshops facilitated by YTEPP ranging from Graphic Design, Music Production, Barbering and Hair Weaving and more. Additionally, through field trips, the youth will be exposed to life and opportunities beyond what they know in their communities and YTRC.
The inaugural session focused on identifying the strengths and goals of the participants. Each young person engaged in an activity which caused them to think deeply about their positive attributes, and they were then encouraged to build-on and use those strengths as the programme unfolds.
During the second part of the day, the participants were divided into three groups and were given the task of building a tent from the ground-up. During this fun and engaging activity, it soon became clear that the separate groups could not build the tent. However, when they all worked together as one collective group, using their individual strengths, the tent was soon constructed!
This was the first major lesson on the importance of using individual strengths in a team setting.
At the end of the first workshop, many of the young people said that they felt inspired and were excited to continue with the programme.
One participant said, “I like this programme because it is helping us prepare for life when we leave”.
Another said, “The advice in this programme is important. The instructors are taking the time to talk to us. We didn’t learn these things outside”.
This programme, firmly steeped in SDG 16- peace, justice and strong institutions, is certainly off to a strong start.