Bridgeport High gets Boost from St. Catherine YIC

Date Published: 
Monday, September 11, 2017

The issue of discipline in schools has long been a matter of concern for educators at varying levels in Jamaica's school system, and for Jamaicans generally. Bridgeport High School has been exploring options to promote behaviour modification and the development of social skills among students. In light of this, a number of students who are seen to exhibit problem behaviours have been referred to the St. Catherine Youth Information Centre for intervention. 

The students, some of whom have been suspended from school for various infractions were engaged for one-week at the YIC under an initiative dubbed "Youth Empowerment for Behaviour Change". Youth Empowement Officer Gihon Mitchell explained that the initiative uses positive youth development strategies in an effort to help youth identify their talents and tap into their greatness.

According to Mr. Mitchell, "by identifying their talents and skills and making a commitment to utilise these skills and talents as alternatives to their problem behaviours, we can help these students to become better citizens".

Throughout the week of activities which commenced on September 4, 2017, the students were engaged in rap sessions with motivational speakers, creative arts exercises and sports. Through these activities, there was a focus on building discipline and teamwork among the young persons.

Some of the participants engaged in one of the Youth Empowerment for Behaviour Change Sessions at the St. Catherine YIC


Importantly, facilitators sought to consistently engage the participants in goal setting, while gaining commitment from the students to implement a game-plan towards achieving their life goals. Each individual game-plan was developed by the students themselves with the support of a facilitator. The plans identified the positive behaviours necessary to assist the individual to perform better in school and to become a more well-rounded student, and the specific actions that they will need to take to achieve the goals identified.

Mr. Mitchell noted that behaviour change was clearly evident throughout the week, as the participants engaged in the various activities and critical reflection exercises. Students were able to adopt positive attitudes, improve in their display of respect for authority, show greater cooperation with each other and also improve their punctuality. Improved self-esteem and self-confidence was also evident throughout the intense week of activities.

"In seeking to address problem behaviour, a lot of interventions fail to highlight the positive attributes that the students possess. We see each of these students as having the potential to make a positive impact on their school and society. Our aim throughout these sesssions has been to help the students realise the skills, talents and postitive attributes that they each possess", asserted Mr. Mitchell.