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Farm Road Project: Bahama Journal
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Posted by:Aug 19th 2003, 02:23:01 pm
Fig Tree News Teamwww.jonescommunicationsltd.com/journal

The Farm Road initiative, a sister community computer centre project to the Briland Modem Fund Community Computer centres on Eleuthera and Harbour Island, started just over one year ago to address a myriad of social conditions contributing to crime, continues to produce tangible results, authorities said Friday during the closing ceremony of the Farm Road, Bain and Grants Town Urban Renewal Summer Programme.

Over 70 children from the historic Bain and Grants Town communities participated in the two-week summer programme, which organisers said focused primarily on broadening the experiences of the children.

Programme co-coordinator Jason Gibson said that the instruction which the young people received in music, anger management, conflict resolution, grooming and other disciplines could benefit them well into their adult lives if consistently applied.

"I look forward to these programmes because we never know the long-term impact that such programmes could have on the social development of our young people," said Mr. Gibson, a teacher at C.I Gibson High School.

Camp organisers explained that another dimension of the programme was to help increase the children's awareness and appreciation of their habitat.

"We participated in the Bahamas National Pride Association's Project Green and we did a beach cleanup where we were able to sensitise the children to the need to keep the environment clean and to preserve our natural resources," Mr. Gibson said.

The children were also taken on field trips to The Bahamas National Trust, The Ardastra Gardens and on a glass bottom boat excursion.

A popular feature of the summer camp, Mr. Gibson said, was a game called 'Know Your Bahamas' in which the children were quizzed on Bahamian culture and history.

Coordinator of the Farm Road Project Inspector Stephen Dean, meanwhile, noted that the initiative continues to provide valuable assistance for the police, in addition to promoting civic programmes such as the summer camp.

"I think what is good is what you hear members of the public saying about how they are happy that the police are coming in a different way and the approach is different because that has been the concern of the public," Inspector Dean said.

"Now that we come with a consultative approach, wanting to hear from them, the public is now more receptive and they are more inclined to give us information and give us intelligence on criminal activities because they feel like a part now," he said.

A deficiency of the increased thrust toward social partnerships, however, is the lack of coordination among the various entities forming the partnerships, Inspector Dean disclosed.

While he applauded the heightened social awareness and community activity he also called for a more organised effort.

"The public has been assisting, but not in a cohesive way," he said. "The response has been very segmented and what you will find is that in any different area there are any number of organisations doing something in the various communities, but I think the time has come [for us to realize] that if we were to put all our efforts together in a corporate way we would be able to be more focused and I think that would even help with funding."

He explained that a large number of individuals and organisations are willing to contribute to civic organisations, but because many beneficiaries are not accountable with their record keeping, the would-be donors fail to make their contributions.

Inspector Dean reiterated that the Farm Road initiative would soon expand to other "high crime areas" such as the St. Cecilia, Englerston, Kemp Road and Fox Hill communities where authorities hope the improvements gained in Farm Road would be duplicated.

Assistant Director of Social Services Kim Sawyer also had high commendation for the Farm Road summer programme and the broader initiative.

She said one of the benefits of the Bain and Grants Town programme was that it provided parents, many of whom were not able to afford daycare for their children, with a safe environment for them.

"In Social Services we do see that there has been an increase of reports of neglect because parents really don't have anywhere to leave their children during the summer," Ms. Sawyer said.

She added, "Whilst we have the children we try to engage them in some educational activities and impart to them some life skills."

Ms. Sawyer said the lessons shared with camp participants will be reinforced during the coming school year as a part of after-school activities planned for children in the Farm Road, Bain and Grants Town communities.
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