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Citizen Security Programme transforms Mt D’Or Road From hot spot to cool spot
The Citizen Security Programme (CSP) has impacted directly in transforming the Mt D’Or Road, Champs Fleurs community from a hot spot—with seven murders in 2007—to a cool spot in 2013, with its initiatives to reduce crime and violence at the community level. So said Mt D’Or Development Foundation chairman Valton Matthews. The CSP is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government.
CSP programme co-ordinator Gregory Sloane-Seale and CSP community action officer Kwasi Cudjoe met with Matthews and Richard Jeremiah, president of the Mt D’Or Village Council and managing director of the Mt D’Or Youth Sports and Cultural Club, at the Mt D’Or Community Centre last week, to discuss strategies for the community. Matthews said the awareness of CSP started in 2007 when its representatives came into the community.
The year 2007 was significant because there were seven murders in the community, and the CSP started some programmes and initiatives around that time, one of them being its Rapid Impact Project (Rip) computer centre. “You can look at the community and see that from 2008 to now, you hardly have any incidents in terms of killings in the community,” Matthew said. “CSP has impacted directly in that respect, and the residents felt there was a need to take back the community from particular elements.”
He said CSP opened up members of the community to training opportunities such as development courses, anger management, mediation, family counselling, music programmes. Matthews is also a product of the CSP’s music programme, and he now teaches music at the community centre. ‘Crime on the decrease in CSP communities’
Sloane-Seale said the levels of crime were coming down in the 22 communities in which the CSP had its programmes. More importantly, he said, the organisation was seeing the engagement of community members increasing. He said, “We have some communities where streets were warring with other streets, people just didn’t talk and interact. “The public spaces, football fields were empty because people weren’t going in there. They may have had a homicide that occurred there, people just didn’t feel safe.
“Now what we have is just more vibrancy at the community level, more community activities such as family days, Fathers and Mothers days, more celebration of community.” CSP’s communications consultant Salorne McDonald said there was not a specific time frame for people to stay within its programmes. The training, he said, was ongoing and specifically designed for the particular community’s requirements.
He said the CSP was not like a Ytepp (The Youth Training Employment and Partnership Programme) or CCC (the Civilian Conservation Corps of T&T) that had a group of people within its folds for six months or however long a cycle may run for. McDonald said to date the CSP had more than 700 completed projects, some 20,000 sponsored community events and over 50,000 direct beneficiaries over its five years of operation.
He said the programme provided a continuous body of support which took the form of interpersonal skill building, professional skill development and a guided structural community development approach. McDonald said the partnership process saw the community playing a major role in determining the kind of programmes which were implemented. The proposals for the projects were driven by community needs, as one community may have a totally different construct of support from another.
Jeremiah, who also teaches and gives counselling at the Morvant Police and Barataria Police Youth clubs, said CSP’s mediation courses had helped him in talks between rival elements in the community. The Tunapuna Court also sends first offenders to do community service at the centre instead of doing hard time. Upon successful completion of their time, Jeremiah writes up the juveniles’ performance reports to the judge and their records are expunged.
He wished that CSP’s programmes could be implemented in every single community and not only in hotspots.
Cooking lunch, playing dominoes
Pointing to the youths cooking lunch, playing dominoes, video games and cards in the community centre, Jeremiah said CSP had done a lot in Mt D’Or. He said if it were not for CSP involvement sponsoring trophies, the community’s teams could not have entered LifeSport’s tournaments and come first in cricket and second in basketball. Jeremiah said CSP’s parenting programmes had proven extremely beneficial for the single parents in the community, as 60 per cent of the women were not married.
He said there were more males that showed more interest in the CSP’s cooking course than females and they had to find alternatives for them in camp such as crochet and knitting. Jeremiah was hoping that the CSP receives an extension to continue its work throughout the communities in 2015. One of its many initiatives is to help communities with $90,000 in funding for its projects and needs.
‘It keeps youths occupied in a positive way’
Citizen Security Programme’s assistant chef, aspiring entertainment promoter and producer Jamael “Russian” Spicer, 21, was busy “bubbling a pot” when the Sunday Guardian visited the community centre. He was helping to cook a hearty and delicious fish, chicken, lentil peas and macaroni pie lunch for the other youths. Spicer said, “I don’t really like football. I tell myself I better pick myself up and do something and help them in the kitchen, and I find I like it.”
“I do entertainment and event promoting and producing. “The CSP and LifeSport doing a good thing keeping the youths occupied in a productive way instead of getting out on the road and doing some stupidness.”
Mt D’Or Road community profile
Mt D’Or Road is located in the eastern part of Trinidad. It is bordered by Mt Hope on the Western side, Champ Fleurs on the Eastern side and to the north by Mt Lambert. The community has a few squatting residents in the foothills of Spring Valley and Spring Valley Extension and is administered by the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation.
Mt D’Or Road is a residential area with 802 households and a total population of 2,663. The Mt D’Or Road community is culturally and racially diverse: African 70 per cent, Indian nine per cent, Mixed 18 per cent, Chinese/Caucasian/Syrian and other one per cent.
The age group of the youth population 7-24 years represents 35 per cent of the population.
The majority of residents, 29 per cent, are Roman Catholic, there are also Anglicans, Presbyterians, Hindus, Muslims, Baptists, Jehovah Witness and Methodists. In this community there are a higher number of women who have never been married, 60 per cent, as compared to common-law relationships which make up only 13 per cent.
There is a Government Primary School in the immediate area, but the youth have to leave the community to attend secondary school, and there are no pre-schools in the community.
According to records, 69 per cent of the population is not attending school, with 49 per cent attending government primary schools. The majority of the population has attended school, with 40 per cent having secondary schooling as the highest level. However, out of this group, 69 per cent did not pass any exam.
Obtaining three to four O’Levels was the next highest level of education, with six per cent of the population having achieved this. Of those who did some level of training, 55 per cent have a certificate with an exam. The seven to 12 age groups make up 40 per cent of those attending school.
The workforce of Mt D’Or Road is 1,000 people; this represents 60 per cent of the working population within the area. Of this group, the majority work in private enterprise (63 per cent), followed by those who work for the Government, 14 per cent. The major occupation of the working population is elementary, with 25 per cent. This is followed closely by service and sales, with 17 per cent.
The major industry is the wholesale and retail trade, which makes up 19 per cent of all industries. Though 16 per cent of the population did not state their income status, 28 per cent of the population earns less than $500, followed by 22 per cent of the population who earn $1,000 to $1,999.
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