BELIZE CITY–There are a wide range of temptations and distractions lurking within our society that can prevent at-risk youngsters, school-goers especially, from reaching their full potential, but as of today, Belize City youth between the ages of 13 and 19 years have an alternative which will hopefully steer some of those vulnerable adolescents in the right direction.
A little over a year ago, in October 2013, a contract was signed for an educational, social and recreational facility that caters to both males and females who are in school and need additional tutoring and support, as well as those out-of-school youth who wish to re-enroll in an educational institution, and it became reality this afternoon when the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation officially opened the youth center at the Gwen Lizarraga High School compound in Belize City.
The aptly-named Gateway Youth Center, which is an initiation of the Community Action for Public Safety (CAPS) Project, is geared towards the promotion of constructive use of free time, and is specifically aimed at youth, parents and the broader community through the provision of a Positive Youth Development Curriculum in an effort to bring about positive behavioral change in the community.
During the opening ceremony, Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation & Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Mark King, said, “As the name itself suggests, the Gateway Youth Center is intended to open up opportunities for young people of this city, especially those living on the southside and those who are out of school and unattached.”
While the project is being executed by the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, it is also a part of the Education Support Services of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and substantive Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Hon. Patrick Faber, described the center as “the kind of environment that our children deserve to be in”, while urging parents to do their part in ensuring that their children benefit from the initiative.
According to a release from the Ministry of Human Development, the center caters to the development of physical, social, emotional and cognitive abilities, and allows youth to find hope and vision for a positive future through participation, experience, achievement, leadership, enjoyment, friendship and recognition.
The project was funded through the Inter-American Development Bank and the Government of Belize.
The youth center provides instructional programs such as Literacy and Math, afterschool programs, re-entry and outside referral services and family services, and is equipped with classrooms, offices, an auditorium, security systems and recreational facilities.
Youth between the ages of 13 and 19 are encouraged to visit the center on Dakers Street, or contact a youth officer at 227-0840 to register to participate in any of the programs offered.