The non-governmental organisation, Sustained Youth Development and Research Incorporated (SSYDR), is collaborating with government, and working closely with the courts and the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) to provide alternative sentencing for youths.
SSYDR’s Executive Director, Magda Wills said the coach attached to the organisation makes representation for youths at court cases. This is to lobby for alternative sentencing of probation to the SSYDR project instead of a custodial sentence. This is aimed at reducing youth crime and violence significantly.
“We have found that having youths alternatively sentenced makes more sense than putting them into a prison system because working with the coach who would develop life plans with them is good. Some of the youths might not have a plan and this coach would come and enquire what you want to do with yourself, and many times they would not know what they want to do but then with the guidance and mentoring they develop a plan,” Wills explained.
She said when the coach has assisted the youths in developing a plan for their future, apart from visiting the family and establishing contact, the SSDYR would then ensure that the youths are linked to a livelihood opportunity or employment to boost their development.
The Executive Director pointed out that the project replaces the Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) project which ended on September 30, 2016. Since its launch in October 2016, 10 to 15 youths were alternatively sentenced to SSDYR, which has resulted in the youths getting a second chance to become productive citizens.
Additionally, Wills highlighted that SSDYR also works closely with the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture Youth and Sports. This partnership enables youths who complete their time at NOC to be a part of the coaching process of SSDYR, “Because they are leaving a closed environment they would have been in for one to three years. So coming out and being able to reintegrate them into society ensuring that they find employment, get them back into the school system with somebody guiding them through the process is important so we work with youths coming out of NOC as well as youths with alternative sentence through the courts,” the Executive Director explained.
Wills noted that even though SSDYR has one coach due to lack of financial support, youths continue to receive the support needed.
(Modified from the Government Information Agency)