~ Applications Open for New Day Treatment Programme ~
By Judy Fitzpatrick
Ujima Foundation has taken its programme to help youngsters in St. Maarten to a new level with the launching of its new Day Treatment Programme for “at-risk” boys in the country. The treatment programme is an extension of Ujima’s Residential Treatment Programme and will be in the form of an after school programme targeting boys ages eight to 13. The programme began on August 24, and registration is currently ongoing.
UJIMA Foundation had offered a day programme in the past, focussing on academic support and therapeutic activities for persons who completed its residential programme. “We re-introduced this programme during the past year for our at risk youths at the facility and we continue to see positive results. We have now opened this programme to other at-risk youths in the community,” Ujima official, Dr. Judith Arndell told WEEKender.
Arndell said Ujima’s Day Treatment Programme is a unique programme which caters to at-risk boys, who have emotional and behavioural disturbances. The objective is to provide a therapeutic, structured afterschool programme for the at-risk boys who have been identified as difficult to manage in their classroom settings and regular afternoon school programmes, due to their “out of controlled behaviour and emotional struggles.”
“These youths are likely to be more at risk for developing delinquent behaviours without therapeutic intervention,” Arndell said.
BOYS ENROLLED in the programme will receive educational and therapeutic (mental health counselling) support five days a week (Monday through Friday) from 2:00 to 6:00pm. The length of stay for each child will vary depending on the progress and needs of each child.
Similar to its Residential Treatment Programme, the Ujima Day Treatment Programme will offer daily psychological intervention and educational support to boys within the targeted age group who are considered to be at-risk.
IN ADDITION TO academic guidance and support, youths enrolled in the programme will also receive a warm meal and afternoon snack; a structured environment; counselling services, homework guidance, behaviour modification, educational support/services, recreation activities and family involvement. The recreational activities will consist of both indoor and outdoor activities.
Arndell said the structured environment will diminish the risk of the youths getting involved in negative behaviours on weekdays around “peak times” when parents are unable to monitor children effectively. “The environment at this level of treatment will provide a staff-to-client ratio sufficient to ensure necessary therapeutic services, educational support and professional monitoring, control and protection.”
THE COUNSELLING services will provide intervention to deal with the problematic behaviours and offer alternative ways to manage/control behaviours appropriately in all settings. In addition, the programme will provide psychological screening and treatment services on a level of intensity equal to Ujima’s 24-hour residential programme. One-on-one counselling as well as participations in group counselling will be done.
The psychological treatment and guidance will focus on skills development such as self-esteem and confidence-building, development of adequate problem-solving, social and coping skills, as well as anger management and drug prevention. The behaviour modification programme will focus on teaching the youngsters self-control, responsibility, ownership of their actions and behaviour management through a series of self-monitoring activities. Family involvement means support and guidance through parenting classes and family counselling.
YOUNGSTERS FOR the day programme will be selected from the various schools and afternoon school programmes where they are deemed to be too difficult to manage and require more than just academic support and guidance. These youths will be identified by their teachers, student care coordinators and based on the behavioural and emotional struggles noted in the classroom and other school environments.
Applications are now being accepted for the day treatment programme. Ujima is also accepting applications for its Residential Treatment Programme. Ujima has space for five applicants for its regular residential programme and space for 12 new persons in its day programme. The day programme coincides with the academic year and runs from August 2015 to June 2016. Parents contribute US $75 per month for the day programme and $200 per month for the residential therapeutic programme. The contribution is often covered by private sponsors for some boys.
In the meantime, Ujima has been busy with its students. A number of boys completed the programme recently and returned home to their families at the end of July. Ten students from the therapeutic home also participated in the foundation’s summer programme, which Arndell said was a combination of fun and educational activities.
The programme included games, a family picnic, counselling, sports, educational sessions and trips. Other activities included a community clean-up effort at Mullet Bay Beach, arts and crafts and an opportunity to go on the party bus. The boys wrote about their experiences in their journals. One of the activities was a workshop for parents, who learned how to best understand their sons.
EACH DAY OF the summer programme began with a mandatory hygiene session to teach participants the importance of proper hygiene and give them a chance to practise it. The Dental Hygiene Foundation gave a demonstration and lecture on proper oral hygiene.
Participants were also taken on a fishing trip, visited the Fire Station, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Sandi’s Pet Paradise, Heavenly Water, the First Aid Foundation, The Daily Herald, Laser101, Tri-Sports cycling, TelEm Earth Station, utilities company GEBE, the Police Station and Princess Juliana International Airport SXM Control Tower, which many of them never dreamed of experiencing in their young lives.
ARNDELL SAID touring organisations and businesses helped to broaden the scope of participants to all the potential careers available. “And what they also learned was that with education and a passion for something, they can become great men of society when they get older.”