Amidst efforts to tackle the social plagues that hinder youth development and to create an environment that fosters positive youth development and growth, the Equity Ministry has once again rolled out its flagship Community After School Programme (CASP).
Through the provision of Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars (EC$700,000.00) from the Government of Saint Lucia, the CASP is set to continue changing the lives of vulnerable children around the island.
Commissioned in 2009, the CASP is designed to provide children and youth with opportunities for personal growth, behavior modification, and academic advancement. through active participation in a variety of areas.
These include academic support, social life skills development, and electives such as performing arts, music, information technology, home economics, sports, and agriculture.
The 2023 CASP annual cycle runs from September to March 2024 and provides a more secure haven for the nation’s vulnerable children during unsupervised after-school hours.
Community After School Programme (CASP) Coordinator Antonia Rene Marius explains why the particular programme is urgently needed. “Despite the best efforts of government, families and stakeholders to create a favorable environment for children to thrive, an alarming number are still growing up in conditions that are detrimental to their holistic development. Therefore, to tackle some of the issues such as child abuse, drug abuse, crime and violence the Ministry has decided to recommence the CASP to target the quality of life of communities and families by providing a safe and supervised environment for children, after school hours,” stated Rene-Marius.
This special child safety net initiative will be implemented in 18 communities island-wide namely Gros Islet, Babonneau, Marchand, Faux A Chaux, Ciceron, Jacmel, Canaries, Soufriere, Dennery Choiseul, Augier, Vieux Fort, Belle-Vue Blanchard, Odsan and Belair.
According to Kendall Elva, Acting Deputy Director of the Community Services Unit in the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, “The Community After School Programme (CASP) is a very important programme for peripheral reasons. Children by virtue of their nature are in need of provision, protection services, resources and an environment that is inducive to holistic development. The Community Services Unit believes that programmes must be implemented to ensure that the needs of children are addressed in an urgent and comprehensive manner.”
A good community after school programme promotes coordination, support and respect and can help children be safe and confident.
It provides a place where children socialize, connect to peers and make new friends.
Furthermore, the CASP provides an avenue for academically struggling children to get homework completed and acquire new life skills.
SOURCE: Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment