7 September 2017, Belmopan
The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation, and Poverty Alleviation and the Ministry of Defence have joined forces to launch a youth intervention project entitled the Belize Youth Challenge Programme (BYC). The mission of the programme is “to intervene in and reclaim the lives of at-risk youth to produce programme graduates with the values, skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as adults.” The new 2-year pilot programme is an upgrade and strengthening of the National Youth Cadet Service Corps and is modelled after the Youth Challenge Programme run by the Louisiana National Guard in the USA.
The programme targets Belizean males 15-17 years old who are out of school, unemployed/underemployed, and who are at-risk of or may have already come in contact with the law. It will utilize military principles to teach the youths discipline, personal administration and teamwork, while developing their vocational and academic skills via life skills, literacy and PSE classes or attending the online high school. It encourages young men to be responsible, patriotic, and productive citizens of Belize. BYC is a voluntary program with a 10-month residential phase whereby youths live on-campus at the facility at Mile 21 George Price Highway.
The Belize Youth Challenge is encouraging parents who believe the programme would be beneficial to their teen to apply for the first intake. Application forms can be picked up from Ministry of Human Development offices countrywide as well as Belize Defence Force Camps, the Department of Youth Services and Community Policing Units. Forms are also available online at www.humandevelopment.gov.bz/challenge and www.bdf/mil.bz Deadline for applications is September 22nd.
In preparation for the program start on October 16th, the Belize Defence Force staff who will form the Belize Youth Challenge Cadre, participated in a 3-day training on Core Correctional Practices which was facilitated by the training Team of the Community Rehabilitation Department. The training provided the soldiers with the interactional skills necessary to work with high risk youths who may have behavourial issues. It also provided them with information on the developmental process of teens and trauma. Additionally, a team of staff from both ministries will be visiting the Youth Challenge Program in Louisiana, USA, for a study tour to see hands-on how their program is implemented and learn their best practices.
The Belize Youth Challenge Programme will be co-managed by the Community Rehabilitation Department and the Belize Defence Force. For more information on the programme, the public is asked to call 235-2429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.