64 graduate from Youth Apprenticeship Program

vlcsnap-2013-07-26-19h45m13s66The Youth Apprenticeship Program has graduated from strength to strength, reaching the most vulnerable members of our population and turning their lives around. For six months they are given a chance to prove themselves, not only to their employers and family, but also to themselves, the apprentices. Today, 64 young men and women had their moment in the sun at the Princess Hotel and Casino. They “marched up” to Whitney Houston’s “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” and Coordinator of the Program Diane Finnegan told PLUS News that where those who are supposed to be there are not, she personally has to step in.

Diane Finnegan –  Program Coordinator:

vlcsnap-2013-07-26-19h44m12s209I always say that young people have hidden gifts and talents.  The problem is that we never really give them the opportunity to shine and to manifest their greatness.  Now they are in a setting that allows them that opportunity.  What I do is basically just nurture them in believing in themselves, into realizing in their own self-worth, and then they blossom.  So I’m not responsible for much, because they have it within.  It’s just that it was hidden.

 

Guest speaker Evan “Mose” Hyde salutes the program and its participants, saying that the best measure of its success is its graduates.

Evan Mose Hyde – Guest Speaker:

As they provide for themselves and their families, they will feel a sense of achievement and purpose, so that together they may advance the welfare of this our homeland Belize.  For all your many blessings, for which we are never worthy, we give you thanks.  Through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Diane Finnegan says she envisions the program expanding countrywide. Already there are 500 applicants for the fifth intake of the course and it will be a hard task whittling the numbers down. But forewarned is forearmed: the program, she told us, demands more from you than even you would expect.

Diane Finnegan –  Program Coordinator:

vlcsnap-2013-07-26-19h44m51s63It’s necessary. I will only ask for a raise, not because I need it for self,  but I need it to buy my Dark and Lovely dye.  I know that the challenges will then be  country-wide, but I am ready  I think that our young people are the greatest human beings.  They help to keep me young.  They help to keep me motivated.  They teach me things that I have no idea, and they got to show me the cruelty of us as adults, the level to which humanity goes to keep our young people down. And then I say ‘I am in this fight with you.  Just stand right here with me, and I’ll do the rest for you.’

Over 90 employers participate in the program and apprentices work for 4 days of the week and spend Fridays in life skills training courses. They are paid a stipend of 100 dollars per week, which is carefully budgeted and saved and there are fines assessed for any infractions. A number of past graduates have gone on to further employment at their workplaces or go back to school and similar achievement is expected from this group, which started with over 200 applicants and 150 at orientation.

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