Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 11, 2016 (SKNIS):  Presently, twelve (12) boys between the ages of 12 and 17 are learning invaluable social and vocational skills through the Department of Gender Affairs Boys Mentorship Programme.

The boys are being trained in small appliances repairs and auto mechanic, as part of the Technical Skills and Job Attachment element, which is aimed at providing training for boys at risk, in non-traditional and traditional skills. The training, which will run for three weeks, started on Monday August 08 and will end on Friday August 26, 2016.

The two facilitators, Mr. George Flanders, who is facilitating the small appliances repairs session, and Mr. Denzil Decosta, who is an instructor at the Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC) facilitating the Auto Mechanic sessions, weighed in on the progress of the boys. They noted that the skills taught will enable the boys to earn a living, however, they need to pay attention and be receptive.

Both facilitators said that with respect to the boys both the social skills and the technical skills training go hand in hand.

“Once they can communicate well, they will be able to perform any task that is given to them,” said Mr. DeCosta, while noting that the majority of the boys portray positive attitudes and a willingness to learn. “The others, we will do our best to change their perception and ensure that they develop a positive attitude.”

Mr. Flanders expressed similar sentiments and said that in relation to small appliances repairs it is very important to exhibit good social skills. He noted that more of the boys should develop such skills as it will benefit them greatly.

He said that electricity is not an element that should be taken as a joke as it is very dangerous and the boys need to know the theoretical aspects.

“It is different to carpentry and plumbing,” said Mr. Flanders. “If you get some water on you it is okay, but when you get electricity in your body it is a different story so they have to be careful and come prepared to learn. So, I am here to encourage them and tell them this is how it should go, a little theory and then the practical will come.”

Another element of the programme includes mentor and mentee training and attachment which are slated for Wednesday, August 24, 2016. The mentors will be expected to start spending valuable time with the mentees after the mentor training. A community service project and scholarship opportunity also form part of the programme.

The boys in life and social skills training took place from July 11-22.  There were over thirty (30) sessions including discipline and self-awareness; career development; self-esteem and stress management; anger management; and leadership.

The Launch for the boys Mentorship Programme was held on Thursday July 21, 2016, at the Custom and Excise Conference Room. Thirty-four persons attended, including Hon. Senator Wendy Phipps, members of the Boys Mentorship Advisory Board, sponsors of the programme, mentors, mentees and members of the media.