By Dennis Nichols
Education isn’t all about classroom instruction or even school-based extracurricular activities. Often it’s also about social improvement aimed at our youths, with the realisation that many of them are slipping through the cracks, and into a widening abyss of negative behaviour.
A couple of concerned adults from the village of Devonshire Castle on the Essequibo Coast got together earlier this year and decided to do something proactively for a group of children in the area, bounded by the villages of Walton Hall to the north and Hampton Court to the South.
Led by local businessman Wayne Moore, the Devonshire Castle Youth Club, comprising boys between the ages of seven and 15, meets at the Walton Hall ball field on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, where they are given pep talks that include the importance of discipline and the need for rules, after which they get the chance to learn and play the world’s most popular sport – soccer.
Moore said other sports activities are in the works, including table tennis, for which a table and accessory equipment have already been bought by way of a donation from an overseas-based church organization, represented by former Essequibo resident, Ganesh ‘Charlie’ Persaud.
Last June, the group had an interactive day with the boys, during which school supplies, including books, backpacks, and sports gear were distributed. The lads also benefitted from the donation of a quantity of football boots by businesswoman Bissoondai Shaheed who, according to Moore, has promised further assistance.
He said they are now in the process of acquiring a number of computers through a government agency. The computers will go a long way towards supplementing academic work. He added that some teachers have already promised to assist in this effort.
Since its establishment, the youngsters have also benefitted from visits and chat sessions with the local police from Anna Regina and health officials from the regional hospital, on matters relating to their development, including general health principles.
They were also educated on the use and abuse of alcohol, narcotics, and the suicide epidemic that is cause for such great concern in the country.
The Essequibo Coast reportedly has one of the highest suicide rates in Guyana. Devonshire Castle and its neighbouring villages like so many other rural enclaves, experience occasional episodes of delinquency, triggered by alcohol and drug abuse, according to several residents.
One villager observed that many adults who could have served as role models for youngsters there have left the area for the city or for ‘greener pastures’ abroad. He added that this has created a void – one which he hopes the group leaders would be able to fill.
In fact, the youngsters in the club do benefit from the experience and wisdom of older ‘youths’ who in addition to reminding them of the necessity for discipline, also serve as sports coaches. They include Rawle Griffith, Travis Bowen, Ronzil Durga, and Moore himself.
During one such activity, two of the youths, Kuvraj Dharshannan Lall and Teiambe Moore, spoke briefly to their peers about the positive results that could be achieved from such group activity.
Lall said he loved soccer, and that practising his football skills such as ball control and passing, would help keep his focus on the sport and away from alcohol and drugs.
Moore said, simply, that he likes the discipline the sport and the group activities bring to the club members.
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