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Among the many benefits of trees and forests is their ability to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve the mood of individuals and contribute to good mental health. . It is no surprise then that the Portland Arts and Vocational Education (PAVE) Centre has been using forests to engage and help underprivileged and unattached youth in the parish.

Police Constable David Comrie, Life Skill Coach at the PAVE Centre and a member of the Community Safety and Security Branch says this specific initiative forms part of a Voluntary Basic Security Management Course geared towards helping unattached youth deemed to be susceptible to crime and violence within Portland.

On July 31, eight (8) young people between the ages of 17 and 26 years from the parish of Portland hiked to the Clydesdale Estate in St. Andrew which is a part of the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve where they pitched tents and camped for the night. The aim was to raise awareness and appreciation of forests. 

“We wanted to expose and help the young people understand the importance of securing and conserving nature as well as the preservation of wildlife. So, while we focused on survival techniques including karate, camping techniques and other personal development topics such as career, life skills and deportment in keeping with the course, we also did tree identification and spoke about the importance of preserving the forest”, Mr. Comrie said.

He noted that the hike and camp activity will always form part of the security management training as it is now embedded in the curriculum. 

“As the program coordinator I am hopeful that this Security Management course can run concurrent throughout the year specifically every four (4) weeks which was the duration of the last course. There was intentions to launch another security management course in October targeting youths from Eastern Portland but due to Covid19 and curfew protocols and the uncertainty, we are inconclusive as to what to do next,” he noted.

Mr. Comrie says participants of the programme will be certified as security practitioners and will be placed at various locations such as hotels and resorts as a part of the Centre’s employment initiative. 

The PAVE Centre aims to get the minds of young people engaged with positive thoughts that will inevitably be expressed through positive actions. This they achieve through the creation and customization of free classes that provide unattached youth with the training, mentorship and hands-on experience needed to succeed in life.

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