While the Government is letting go 200 persons employed under the southside rejuvenation programme on one hand, on the other, they today launched Southside Youth Success and Drop-in Center.
This is another second-chance program which ensures that at-risk young men between the ages of 14-17, who are living on the Southside of Belize are given a chance to become productive citizens, instead of turning to crime.
Today, the Drop-in Center, which is located at the second floor of the Commercial Center, was officially opened, and the media were invited to partake in the event.
7News attended, and here's what the guest speakers told the gathering:
H.E. Vinai Thummalapally, United States Ambassador to Belize
"This CARSI sponsored UNDP project focuses on mentoring, skills training and job placements for at risks youth In Belize City. What is the key to the success of this project? One may ask - Its collaboration and cooperation and I am particularly fond of this project because not only it represents cooperation between government agencies - this project is also an example of government and the private sector collaborating to maximize benefits. We are all aware of the statistics about the economic and citizen security difficulties affecting our friends and neighbors every day in Belize City. We all know the realities and while they are important statistics and numbers about economic and security issues in Belize City - statistics and numbers will not solve hood problem."
"Statistics and numbers will not by themselves change any realities. The reality unfortunately is quite simple and quite tragic - young people are killing each other."
Jay Coombs, Program Analyst - UNDP
"In the beginning we started with what was called the Big Daddy's restaurant, this was a facility graciously provided to us by the Belize City Council. We are so happy for this offer of space and neutral place where young people could come and learn and so we had to do a lot of demolishing, we had to re-think and we had to think about what the place would look like so that the young men who would be a part of the training program here would feel at home - would feel safe and would be happy in an environment that we would subsequently create."
"We also had to look at equipping the center. You've seen computers around, the chairs, the desks and all the other facilities in here are meant to ensure that the facility is a one stop place for all the services that would be provided for these young people who will eventually become even more productive citizens in our society."
"What we wanted to ensure was that the center was responsive. We know of several programs that are based on the apprenticeship approach and we know of their challenges and some areas of success. What we wanted to do was to build on the success but to try and avoid the pitfalls and the challenges that they experience. Of course you can never really avoid all the challenges but we wanted to find ways to ameliorate these. First of all we wanted the program to be a program that the young men will stick with."
The drop in center is a CARSI-funded program in which the US Embassy collaborated with partners including The Department of Youth Services, the Belize Tourism Board, members of the private sector, the Government of Belize, and the Belize City Council.