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Seeking To Build Skills For Youth

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EDUCATION Minister Glenys Hanna Martin addressing the event at BASH yesterday, founded by Terry Miller.

By PAVEL BAILEY

THE Bahamas Association for Social Health marked its 31st anniversary with a dedication programme for the start of the BASH Youth Build-A-Skill programme yesterday.

The event was held at The Village Recovery Way Centre. Special guests included Education Minister Glenys Hanna Martin and members of the community who came together to celebrate the commencement of the organisation’s week long celebrations.

During her remarks at the ceremony, Mrs Hanna Martin gave her support to the new initiative and commended BASH founder Terry Miller for his outstanding social work in service to the nation.

“So, I want to say to Terry Miller, I congratulate you, because you have been so faithful to the course. You have understood the journey and you have been faithful,” she said.

“Against all odds, facing every challenge, every setback, every disappointment. Many would have gone in a different direction, but you stayed the course.”

Afterwards Mr Miller expressed his excitement at the launch of this new initiative aimed at helping at-risk youth who dropped out of high school.

“We want to train between 100 and 150 young people in marketable skills. Our target group is the high school dropout and we want to get them excited about learning a new skill that they can market and generate income,” he said.

The Build-A-Skill programme plans to teach at-risk youth valuable skills such as carpentry, basic construction, project management, solar power assembly and installation, media production, backyard farming and much more. It is Mr Miller’s hope that as well as teaching young people valuable skills, the programme can help them deal with anger management and improve their social skills.

“While we have a captive audience, we will also empower them with social skills, motivation, patience and anger management. Many of our young people are having issues with interacting with each other, social interactions. They’re angry. They are fearful. They’re going through a lot of anxiety. And so, we want to train these young people to help to manage their anger with therapy.”

By helping these at-risk youth, the Build-A-Skill programme aims to not only steer them away from substance abuse, but also reduce crime and violence in the community.

“They’re sitting back and watching their friends excel and get a car and going out and have nice things, you know? Almost the natural thing that you are going to see happening is they want it too. And how do they get it? So, you’re going to have more crime and violence going on as well. So, this is a part of our main focus of substantially reducing crime and violence in our communities and helping the social landscape to evolve in a more peaceful way,” Mr Miller said.

While this pilot project is currently only open to those in Chippingham and nearby communities, there are plans in the works to eventually expand the programme to other high-risk areas such as Fox Hill and Kemp Road.

However, BASH has faced several challenges recently in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic such as a noticeable loss in funding as many donors could no longer financially support them. This, coupled with the closure of the Lignum Vitae Unit of Sandilands last year, has put more substance abuse victims on the street in a time when they needed programmes like these most.

Despite these setbacks, Mr Miller believes that BASH can still make a positive change in the country if the facility continues to reach out to those at risk with the support of the wider community at their back.

“We need the support of the public. We need family members to encourage their children to take advantage of this opportunity and to talk to them. If they need help from us, give us a call. We are ready to help. My cell number is 809-7178, anyone can call me. And if you have issues with a family member who has substance abuse disorder issues, you’re looking at a family member who wants to be part of the programme, give me a call, I’m available.”

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