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PAC programme now boasts 12 pan sides – Nicholls

PAC programme now boasts 12 pan sides – Nicholls

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Seven years after the Pan Against Crime initiative was launched, the programme is still fulfilling its mandate of being a crime prevention tool in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

The community-based programme, when it was introduced, sought to provide youngsters with activities to keep them meaningfully occupied, while building the artform of pan playing in the country.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jonathan Nicholls told SEARCHLIGHT that the initiative, conceptualized by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves in 2007 and launched on February 20, 2008, has seen a remarkable success rate over the years.

“The Pan Against Crime initiative is overwhelmingly living up to its mission. In the seven years since the initiative was introduced, more than 3,000 youths have passed through the programme.

“The success is measured by the reports of the managers and tutors of the band, who have stated that the youths are developing a life skill and are doing better academically. In fact, one year, one of the students was tops in the Common Entrance, and we have had good stories about youths’ performance in the CPEA,” Nicholls stated.

The programme now boasts 12 pan sides, averaging at least 35 members per side, with Nicholls indicating that there are numerous requests for more to be established, which he said will take place as funding becomes available.

Pan Against Crime pan sides have been established in Union Island, Canouan, North Leeward (North Stars), Questelles (Symphonix), Stubbs (Scotiabank South East Steel Orchestra), Largo Heights (St Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority Genesis), Georgetown (Mustique Charitable Trust All Stars), Sandy Bay, South Rivers, Marriaqua and at the Bethel High School.

The funding for the groups came initially from the Social Investment Fund (SIF), and now from PetroCaribe.

According to Nicholls, what has been encouraging is that some of the programme’s initial skeptics have now embraced the idea and have been encouraging the youths, tutors, and organizers.

In response to the popular mantra that “pan can’t stop crime,” he said that the programme does not target criminals, but instead gives the youngsters the tools that would deter them from getting involved in criminal activities.

“Even the parents are actively participating. Initially, they would have just sent the children to the sessions, but now they are coming along with them and playing a dynamic role,” Nicholls added.

“It’s not just about playing pan. It also includes lectures on discipline, conflict resolution and teaches them life skills that lend to their overall development.

“Of course, there are the youngsters who fall through, but the administrative programme is not to be blamed. We also have to look at the parents and supervision, as well as other social issues. The Pan Against Crime is fulfilling its mandate to the best of its ability, and continues to grow from strength to strength.”

Apart from the gospel concert that took place last Sunday in Fancy, Nicholls indicated that an anniversary concert is scheduled to take place on March 7 at Rose Bank.

He said that at that event, a handover of steel pans would be made to the North Stars pan side, which lost some of their equipment during the December 2013 floods.

“Parents are encouraged to bring out their children and get them involved, especially in the areas where there are pan sides. There would also be concerts between April and May in Glen, Victoria Village and Greiggs, and we are hoping for a large turnout to our annual summer camp, scheduled to take place from July 20 to August 21 this year.”

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