The Police Department’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ Initiative was started in 2011, through the Community Policing Unit, as a means of reaching young people starved for role models in society.
Four years later the program is still going strong and finding young people who have turned their lives around and gone to the straight path.
Wednesday’s ceremony at Excelsior High School in Belize City was a few months overdue, but student Justin Marin got his moment in the sun, as monthly winner of the program in Precinct 1 in September of 2014.
He was engulfed in the gang lifestyle and had already been expelled from one high school, but a fortuitous meeting on a basketball court changed his life forever.
He told his story today.
“While playing, a conversation came up about life, and what was our expectation for our future.
Malcolm has a high expectation of his future. I, on the other hand, had none. I told Malcolm Nunez about my past, and how I have been expelled from Nazarene High School, and was involved in gang activities, and have been out of school for more than a year.
He then looked at me with an angry expression on his face. He told me there was only two places for gang members, in jail or a cemetery. He told me that his father, Mr Marshall Nunez, was chairman on the board of Excelsior High School, and that he could get me into school if I was interested.
I realized what Malcolm was saying was true. So I took him up on his offer, and he took me to talk to his dad. After a long conversation with Mr Marshall, I went home and told my mom I was going back to school.
I came to Excelsior High School, and realized I was given a second chance to get an education. So I determined in my mind that I would do well in school.”
Justin Marin now says he ranks in the top five in his classes, and is motivated to do well in school, to avoid falling back into the trap of gangs and the relevant culture.
He received a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, sponsored by the Port of Belize Limited, and a “Do The Right Thing” t-shirt from the Police Department.
The monthly winners in each precinct and countrywide at all police formations qualify for the national competition held in the middle of the year.