‘Brand new individuals’
Some of the trainees in the October, 2012, intake of the Barbados Youth Service Programme went there with very little respect for those in authority. But, that is no longer the case.
This was disclosed by president of the service’s Trainee Council, Charlene Phillips, who was one of 79 trainees who took part in the BYS’ Passing Out Parade last Friday, at the Cadet Residential Camp, Paragon Base, Christ Church.
“Some of us as adolescents came here not knowing how to respect authority or follow instructions. Therefore, we were forced to get accustomed to instructions, boundaries and dealing with the consequences of our actions. We might not have been the best berries in the bunch, but we tried our best to cope with the personalities and conditions,” she said, as she addressed her peers, parents, staff of the Barbados Youth Service and officials from the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth.
The council president said the experience was initially a culture shock with the early morning wake-up calls and the intense physical training. She confessed there were times when many of them wanted to give up but the thought of disappointing their parents and, most importantly, themselves gave them the determination to press on.
Phillips noted that the BYS equipped them with skills needed to be better young men and women not only in academics, cultural arts, sports, art and craft and disciplinary training, but also in areas such as etiquette, cleaning and washing.
“Today, we have the basic knowledge of table etiquette. Therefore, it is all up to us to keep practising so that some things will become second nature. Parents, you should have no problem in the housekeeping department as your house should be in tip-top shape for Christmas. Today, we stand as proof of being able to operate manual washing machines, have spanking made-out beds, and fold our laundry — in other words, you have a brand new individual to take home,” Phillips disclosed.
She said the highlight of the programme was being able to showcase their “new talent” of military drill at the national Independence Parade on November 30.
The trainee said she was grateful to the staff of the BYS for taking the trainees under their wings and treating them like their own children while they were away from their families. She also expressed gratitude to Director of the Barbados Youth Service, Hally Haynes, for allowing the trainees to address their problems and issues through the Trainee Council.
Phillips encouraged others to join the service, but warned that it was not for the faint of heart.
“This programme is by no means for the … weak, neither is it for the swift, but the ones who endure to the end. For most of us this programme was a second chance for us to become focused and get back on track,” she emphasised.
Trainees were awarded in a number of categories during the ceremony. These included, Best Turned Out Female, which was copped by Leah Sealy; Best Turned Out Male, Ricky Austin; Most Physically Fit Trainee, Elron Gill (Male), and Julicia Jones (Female); and Best Bed and Locker Layout, Omari Narine (Male), and Leah Sealy (Female). The Most Outstanding Trainee was Julicia Jones.