Ministry Of Youth’s All Boys Afterschool Programme Taking Boys Into Positive Pathways

Victor Gittens leads sessions of the All Boys Afterschool Programme, put on by the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, Monday to Friday at the Marjorie Davis Institute for Special Education that includes reading, learning about the parts of a vehicle, and drumming. (BIS Photos/Patrice Johnson)
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Nassau, The Bahamas – From help with homework, to limbo lessons, sound engineering, conflict resolution, construction technology, auto mechanics and small engine repairs, boys in the Centreville community enrolled in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s (MOYSC) All Boys Afterschool Programme are being exposed to learning opportunities to enrich their lives.

Victor Gittens leads sessions of the All Boys Afterschool Programme, put on by the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, Monday to Friday at the Marjorie Davis Institute for Special Education that includes reading, learning about the parts of a vehicle, and drumming. (BIS Photos/Patrice Johnson)

Now into the second week, the programme for boys in the Centreville community is the continuation of an initiative for boys started in 2023 by a men’s mentoring network. It is sponsored in collaboration with Gang Reduction Intervention Prevention, The Brotherhood and Overtown Centreville Neighborhood Watch.

“It’s about taking our young men/boys and moving them into paths to become positive young men in our community. We hope that this would be a preventative programme from getting our young boys involved in gangs. Instead of going to a gang after school they are coming to a positive gang and that’s what the programme is all about,” said Henry Higgins, Administrative Cadet at MOYSC.

“We’ve pulled together a number of organizations that focus on boys to help us put programmes in the various communities.”

Forty-eight boys ranging in ages from 5 to 20 have registered for the sessions held 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm, Monday thru Friday, at Marjorie Davis Institute for Special Education, Deveaux Street.

“We will have a limbo class every Tuesday and Thursday.  Limbo is a dying art in our country.  There are only three limbo dancers in The Bahamas now,” said Mr. Higgins.

“We also have a sound engineering class where they will learn how to be DJs and sound engineers.”

The boys will also dabble in small home repairs, how to fix generators, weed whackers, lawn mowers, repair and service vehicles, healthy life skills, hygiene, conflict resolution, anger management, self-esteem, [learn about] gender based violence, drumming and Junkanoo craft.

“All of these things are packed into the 13-week programme [We will also be teaching them] how to make Junkanoo supplies that can be sold. We will try to make them young entrepreneurs/businessmen as early as possible.

“Everything is practical; they can use their hands. Some of them, they will learn how to make wooden banks and some will learn how to make chairs and tables from pallets,” said Mr. Higgins.

Why boys?

“Because there is a fallout of boys in our nation. Most people don’t recognize the fact that we have more boys born in The Bahamas than girls.  By the time they get 15/16 we lose them – we thought it was important to bridge that gap and catch the boys before we lose any more [that is when] you see there are more girls,” said Mr. Higgins.

“We see the fallout of boys in education, we see the fallout of boys who are getting involved in gangs.  In MYSC. This is actually one of our preventative programmes to save our boys.”

Mr. Higgins noted that the boys will be rewarded for performance, attendance and improvement.

“We give rewards based on their accomplishments. Once they do something well we reward them,” he said.

“We just read The Story of Christ to them. They have to take the book home and tomorrow they will do a test on the story. Those who do well will be rewarded and those who improve will be rewarded.  We try to give a reward system so they will see that being here is worth it.”

Moreover, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is also planning to offer parenting sessions. “We’re hoping by next month to do a monthly parenting programme where we meet with the parents to share their child/children’s progress and have a time to talk with them about parenting.  Once we recognize the boys who have short attention spans, etc. we want to help them [parents] work in these areas,” he said.

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