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One Struggle now in the schools Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 April 2018 00:00

Shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday April 11, Aspinal Welch arrived in a vehicle to the Swift Hall at the St. Martin’s Parish in Lake Independence. He waited patiently on the passenger’s side of the vehicle as the wheels of his wheelchair were placed on the device and taken over to him. He climbed on and wheeled himself to the inside of the auditorium and waited a few minutes after which Shaphan Domingo arrived. The process was repeated and he too wheeled himself into the auditorium.

The two young men were there as part of the Police Department’s outreach program where school aged children are given the opportunity to hear and see firsthand the effects of crime and violence. Both young men are part of the ‘One Struggle’ program which has formed a group to support victims of crimes as well as to advocate against criminal activities. Recently they partnered with the police department and under the stewardship of Sr. Superintendent Howell Gillett and the group’s organizer, Philip Willoughby, they are making the rounds. Their first stop was St. Martin’s school.

Over 100 children from standards 4,5 and 6 gathered together to hear from these wheelchair-bound young men as well as others who have been affected by crime. Gillett told us that based on assessments, St. Martin’s has been identified as a school where many children who are actually affected by crime attend. “We have to move forward to steer children away from crime,” stated Gillett.  The idea of taking victims of violence to the children, says Gillett, is a way of fighting crime now and in the future. He said the idea is to be strategic and create more positive minded people, to catch young people in their formative years to be productive citizens.

Ann Palacio is the Principal of St. Martin’s De Porres School, when we spoke to her she expressed her thankfulness to Gillett for the initiative. She agreed with Gillette expressing that a huge percentage of the children that attend the school actually go through a lot of trauma as a result of violence whether directly or indirectly. An event such as the one organized said Palacio, “Lets them know that it is not the norm.” She added that part of the School’s strategy in teaching is to have children see what could be the consequences of making wrong choices. She applauded the men who came out to speak to the children.