CSJP Partners With Golf Club to Mentor At-Risk Youth

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Golf Instructor with the CSJP/SANTA Golf Mentorship programme, David Reid (right), assists Jahnick Semaj (left), a participant in the programme, with his golfing technique at the Constant Spring Golf Club, in Kingston.

(Contributed by the Jamaica Information Service)

The Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), in partnership with the charity arm of  the Constant Spring Golf Club, called Seeing A Need, Taking Action (SANTA), is imparting potent life lessons to over 20 at-risk youth aged 10 to 27, from several communities in Kingston.

The communities include: Majesty Gardens, Grants Pen, Hundred Lane, Park Lane, Queensbury, McVille Terrace and the Ackee Walk community in the Red Hills Road area.

In 2014, after discussions, both organizations took action and the CSJP/SANTA Golf Mentorship Programme was born.

Initially geared towards youth aged 16 to 24, the programme was extended by CSJP to include a younger age group.

Communications and Social Marketing Coordinator at CSJP, Patrice Nephew, says the decision to include a younger age group was taken because of the noticeable trend of those youth, who also display at risk behaviour.

“We have found that youngsters at an even earlier age have been displaying some risk factors. There are some who tend to get involved in gangs, while others have not been attending school as they should. This is something that we’re looking into for the CSJP on a whole, especially the social marketing to target our messages and our interventions at an earlier age, because of the wide spread of these risk factors, which are emerging even earlier than we originally anticipated,” she says.

The Golf Mentorship Programme has been creating waves of change in the lives of these young people. As part of the partnership between CSJP and SANTA, there are Life Skills sessions twice monthly between mentees and mentors, where participants learn and adopt some key attributes associated with playing golf.

SANTA Coordinator, Jennifer Davy, says the sessions have been helpful as some of the mentors were once at-risk youth until their exposure to golf and opportunities for personal advancement.

“One  of them is a professional player now and the other is a female who is now going to UTech on a golf scholarship…and they both interact with them on a one-on-one level and highlight the challenges they faced…and how their exposure to golf helped to get them to where they are,”
Ms. Davy shares.

“A major life skill that we’ve taught them is that it’s not how you start, it is how you end up. Somebody can have a fabulous first shot; another person can have a lousy first shot, but that person who had the lousy shot ends up with a better score on a whole, simply because they persevered,” she adds.

SANTA Mentor, David Mais, says he is confident that the programme has had a positive impact on the lives of the beneficiaries.

“I’m just really hopeful that these kids that we’re dealing with will understand that there’s a wrong side and a right side and there are choices they have to make. I think it’s wonderful working with young people and…I know that we’ve made a difference,” he tells JIS News.

The mentorship programme, Mr. Mais, adds will be monitored and evaluated as “we want to create a prototype that can be replicated in other communities in other golf clubs and even among other sports.”

The key attributes of the mentorship programme include honesty, integrity, trust, image, courtesy, decision-making, confidence, commitment, rights, roles and responsibilities, and they have helped to steer participants on a path to make right decisions.

For Allicks Burnett, a resident of McVille Terrace, the programme is “more than hitting a ball with a stick” but rather “an amazing” way of preparing him to be a better person.

“When I get those lessons it’s like hitting the ball…it makes sense, because golf is a very principled game… and it’s a very honest game …so you have got to be honest with yourself. If you can [be] honest with yourself, playing golf means it can make you a better person out there and a better person in society,” he says.

The CSJP is a social intervention programme of the Ministry of National Security that contributes to the reduction in serious crimes and violence.

CSJP III, which is currently underway, promotes culture change that facilitates community governance and a more peaceful co-existence, through activities that build knowledge and opportunities and is active in 50 communities across eight parishes in Jamaica.