Don???t Neglect our Young Men

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Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, with the NCSA’s Project SOFT, Summer Camp??2012, Top Boy, Tamir Weeks and Top Girl, Anna-Marie Holder. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

There is a significant role for men to continue to play in the lives of their children, and in particular in the lives of our young men says Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite. He was at the time voicing concern over the number of young men who were being marginalised due to a lack of positive male, role models.??

He made these comments over the weekend, while delivering the feature address at the 11th annual graduation ceremony for the National Council on Substance Abuse’s (NCSA) Project SOFT (Safeguarding Our Future Today), summer camp transitional programme, at the Church of the Nazarene, Bank Hall, St. Michael.

Before a gathering that included camp graduands, parents and camp counsellors, Mr. Brathwaite noted that there were some things that only men could teach their boys no matter how hard their mothers or women tried.

He said:?? "We have this thing in Barbados that there are certain responsibilities that we put on the mothers, they must go to the schools, and they must attend the P.T.A meetings… but it is not just the responsibility of women to get involved in these activities, both parents need to play an equal role in helping to bring our young men along."

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Most Improved Camper Girl, Shenia Jones receiving her certificate from??Manager of the NCSA, Yolande Forde. (A.Miller/BGIS)??
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Most Improved Camper Boy, Kadeem Phillips, receiving his cerificate from Manager of the NCSA, Yolande Forde. (A.Miller/BGIS)????

The Home Affairs Minister told the audience that while, on a daily basis, our young children were exposed to several influences that might encourage them to experiment with drug use, such as the glamorizing of drugs on television and in movies, he cautioned that this was only a small part of a very long journey, in terms of development and challenges.??

"There are times when our feelings overwhelm us… there are times when we feel we are fighting a bit of a losing battle.?? It’s a fight that we cannot give up.?? It is also a fight that we cannot lose. So, we must continue, not withstanding whatever challenges we might have in terms of financial resources, in terms of whatever obstacles there are, this is a fight that we cannot afford to lose," he reiterated.

Meanwhile, Manager of the NCSA, Yolande Forde, explained that "Project SOFT is not just another summer camp.?? It is a training and character building initiative designed to expose 11 and 12 year olds to information that they would need in order to make wise decisions as they traverse this very confusing period of life called adolescence."

Ms. Forde who noted there were certain standards, norms and values that had to be maintained within society also pointed out that young, energetic children needed an outlet for their energy, but had to realise they did not have to abuse drugs and alcohol to enjoy themselves.

"…This camp programme was structured to include specific components which aim to teach the child the importance of making smart choices.?? In other words, those choices that would allow them to avoid negative activities, those things that are not good and those things which are not positive. We have to let them know they can be involved in positive activities and have just as much fun," she said.

The ceremony was held under the theme You! Me! We! Choose To Make Barbados Drug Free!, and it featured awards being presented to the most improved campers as well as the top campers.

theresa.blackman@barbados.gov.bb

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