During the Yuletide season, 18 young people graduated from the Raising and Empowering of Adolescent Lives (REAL) Support Group Unit programme in a ceremony at the Solomon Mc Leod Theatre, Police Administration Building, Sackville Street, Port-of-Spain.
The atmosphere was charged with excitement as the graduates listened to speeches and heard words of advice from their seniors, including head of the Victim and Witness Support Unit,
Margaret Sampson-Browne. The unit provides counselling, empowerment sessions and teaching of life skills to at risk young people. Without making direct reference to their challenges, Sampson-Browne expressed profound pride in the graduates’ accomplishments.
“You are all my mountain climbers,” she said, as she reminded them to continue to take charge of their lives and use the skills they had been taught to become responsible citizens.
“For the upcoming year we want to impact on everyday life in T&T. We want to be in your face because this is not a talk shop. We don’t generate talk here but we are an active unit. Not only are we going to empower you with life skills but we will also be bringing out the creativity in you because it would be the other stakeholders and myself training you so there will not be a cost attached to any of you.
“We had good things in 2012 but we are going to be great in 2013.” Sampson-Browne expressed concern that young men had become very silent but physical in their actions.
Also addressing the young people were VWSO Cassim Perez, VWSO Janelle Sebastien and CID/CR Superintendent Kenny McIntyre.
Mc Intyre said “The type of grief and trauma each person goes through varies. We cannot save everybody. But if we can save one life, it would be a great success.”
He said often when runaways leave abusive situations, they go to places where they are exposed to criminal elements.
Mc Intyre reminded the young people that personal safety was of paramount importance. He urged them to choose the right path so “we could build a society which we are all proud of.”
Following the formalities, the young people displayed their talent on singing and dancing. Nnakeda Kennedy and Tamika Waldron did a skit which highlighted child sexual abuse.
REAL Group Members
Caleb Mc Ewen
Hadassah Mc Ewen