It's well known that crime eradication must be tackled from many angles, including outreach programmes in at-risk communities that offer young people alternatives to the lure of criminal-minded peers.
Such programmes are not often tossed to the forefront of public attention as quickly as the negative events are, but hold major significance to the turnaround of our crime situation when done effectively.
This is the case with the MpowerTT programme just completed by the Ministry of Sport and Community Development that culminated with the graduation of over 200 young and vulnerable men on Saturday.
The programme aimed to engender hope, something we all desperately need after recording the highest homicide figure in our history last year.
To effectively present a single vulnerable man with an opportunity to take him away from negative influences is a win in itself. To do so with 200 of them, should not go unannounced.
The facts as they are cannot be sugar-coated.
The young men who took to the podium at the graduation ceremony are the types easily stereotyped for their rugged outward appearances and, more simplistically, for the communities they reside in.
Yet, their very presence there proved their commitment to reach higher despite the challenges they face.
To graduate, they each had to complete several months of courses carefully designed by the ministry and strongly supported by the police, business community and The Barcam, a developmental organisation primarily involved in the execution of activities and programmes aimed at the development of youth, communities and others.
It involved the creation of spaces known as Mzones, where men could talk with older mentors about topics such as the definition of a man, respect, their role in society, avoiding gang violence and crime, sexual health and other issues.
The next stage involved life skills training such as dining etiquette, financial literacy, communication and preparation of business proposals.
Phase three focused on a psychological and skill assessment, wherein life coaches and psychologists were present to spend time with each of the participants working through their particular issues.
In the last stage, participants were placed in paid internships for ten weeks in their particular field of interest.
On Saturday, they were supported by a packed ballroom of parents, business officials, senior police officers - including former Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob - and seven Cabinet members and Members of Parliament.
It was, quite rightly so, a celebration of their commitment and determination to dare to be different in communities known more for their ills than successes.
The programme, the brainchild of Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, operating under a mandate by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to change the negative stereotypes about young people, will be recycled each year, targeting more young people in vulnerable communities.
The ministry and all those who contributed are on the right road and deserve all the support they can get in making this programme a growing success.
But above all, we salute the young men who graduated from the MPowerTT programme for the resilience and inspiration they have shown in the steps they took over the last six months.