By Aaron Humes: The former Princess Royal Youth Hostel at Mile 21, George Price Highway, has a new and perhaps fitting name after a rededication ceremony this weekend – New Beginnings Youth Development Center.
It had to be the one, according to Starla Bradley, Director of the Community Rehabilitation Department, because it was selected by residents of the facility and it mirrors the ups and downs of its residents: “I think the name ‘Hostel’ has always had this negative connotation and we knew we wanted something more fitting, something that would capture the experience that these children have when they come here…it makes it all more special because it comes from them. They are the ones who know what they go through on a daily basis; they know what they bring when they come here.”
Bradley added that while few of its residents particularly want to be there, they are able to settle down and receive the “second chances” they are asking for from families and from society – while building family among the residents. Not coincidentally, Saturday was also International Day of the Family.
Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, explains that what’s in a name and particularly this name is very important: “We want to move away from old things, things that have gone before, and we want to have new beginnings…what has happened today is full of symbolism but it’s also exceedingly important…”
The Youth Development Center is now a residential care facility rather than a certified institution under the law and that means it is no longer a place for punishment, said Balderamos-Garcia, but to provide short-term, urgent care as needed and to turn over a new leaf, and the youngsters get it, she believes.
The credit for the name goes to Daveion Dougal, who says “it all means a fresh start, for us to realize that what has happened to us is now in the past and we should look to the future with optimism.” He and his fellow residents, he said, have made their mistakes, but these are now in the rearview mirror and they are looking straight ahead “into a future that is so bright that we need to wear sunglasses…”.