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Teenage mom sends warning to youths

Teenage mom sends warning to youths

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If life were equipped with a rewind button, then Sheria Baptiste would not be a 17-year-old mother of a two year old son and a Senior Three school drop out. No, absolutely not, she would have been in secondary school, fulfilling her dreams and leaving sex and all those activities for much later.

Sheria is one of the many young persons with troubled, disappointing beginnings who have benefited from the Youth Assistance Project (YAP), and this G reggs resident is well on her way to turning her life around and fulfilling her life’s goals after all.{{more}}

“When I got pregnant I felt so bad because every one in the community was watching and talking about me” remembered Sheria who now has a very positive outlook on life since joining YAP.

SEARCHLIGHT spoke to her at a ceremony held last Thursday 6, at Marion House to highlight the work of the Youth Assistance Project and the timely sponsorship of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The tremendous responsibility of raising a child has sunk home and now Sheria is pleading with others her age to reconsider their decision, stressing the importance of school and discipline. “It is tough taking care of a child, thank God I have my family’s support” she stated with a sense of great relief.

Armed with a new sense of hope, Sheria is now attached to the Georgetown arm of YAP and is learning valuable skills as she seeks to chart the course of her life. She hopes to get into the service industry, starting as a waitress and working her way up.

Different circumstances but the same hard beginning is attached to the life of 23-year old Marlon Tommy. When he left school at age 16 he couldn’t read and spent much of his time hanging out in his hometown of Brownstown. Things have changed. If things go according to plan, you may in the future be arrested by him if you are breaking one of the laws of this country. He is working towards becoming a police officer.

Just in case you may be tempted to think that these goals are elusive just listen to James Brown, assistant coordinator for the Georgetown branch of YAP. “We have policemen, sailors, soldiers and journalists who got their start in this program”

While admitting that there are problems with the discipline of some of the participants at times, Brown stressed the tremendous successes achieved by the project in making unemployed youths between the ages of 15 to 19 employable. So much so that there are many requests for the extending of the age limit, giving older hopefuls a chance to benefit from the program’s outstanding work.

This type of success is certainly a delight to the ears of officials of the Organization of American States who are set to spend in the region of $200,000.00 on YAP. “We want the youths benefiting from this project to just do what they are doing to the best of their abilities” was the admonition coming from Merlene Glynn, the OAS’s Director in the local office of the organization.

Each class in the project lasts for a year, the first being class room oriented where participants are taught social skills including conflict resolution and decision making. The remaining six months are spent on attachment where they are observed in on-the-job situations and are guided towards becoming better prepared for employment.

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