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Gateway Youth Center

Gateway Youth Center

Gateway Youth Center

Wednesday, November 26, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: The Community Action for Public Safety (CAPS) initiative of the Government through the Ministries of Education, Youth and Sports and Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation on Tuesday opened a brand-new youth center near the campus of Gwen Lizarraga High School in Belize City.

It is intended to cater to at-risk youth as a positive space for personal, intellectual and social development, and is a centerpiece of the Government’s plans over the next four years to build on the reduction of youth involvement in major crime in Belize City and particularly on the Southside.

Youth Centre

Youth Centre

But with similar programs already in place such as the Skills Training Center and Youth Apprenticeship Program, is this a case of social overkill?

Not so, says Minister of Education Patrick Faber, who told us that the program will complement existing programs and the mission of both Ministries.

He says that there remains a need for more of these programs to reach as many youth as possible, and told us that the central location of the Center – in fact, located in his constituency – ensures its availability as a center of refuge for youths troubled by the ongoing gang violence and other societal pressures, to grow up and make something of themselves.

The project was co-funded for $1.6 million by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

IDB representative in Belize Anneke Jensen said that the center is not only important for youth opportunity, but the impact it will have on Belize City as a whole.

It represents “hope,” she said, for a better future for the children of Belize, and for a Belize where these children can feel safe and able to develop the skills they need to live happy, successful lives and contribute to their nation’s growth and development.

The total cost of the project is $10 million.

In three phases, the project will counter factors associated with youth violence by improving learning and secondary education completion rates, and fostering positive behaviour patterns among students and unattached youth in vulnerable communities; improve prospects of at-risk youth and juvenile offenders social reintegration (an average of 270 per year), by reducing violent attitudes, and improving basic and vocational education levels among residents of youth rehabilitation institutions (the Youth Cadets, the Youth Hostel and the Wagner’s Youth Facility), and lastly, create a management information system to gather, share, and analyse information to promote coordination among institutions leading to more sustainable policy.

Two other projects under the CAPS program, a new visitor’s and resource center and female dormitory are being built at the Youth Cadet Corps on the George Price Highway and will be opened later this month. There was also a donation of band instruments to St. Luke Methodist Primary School in Belize City.

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