Oct 4, 2019

“For the safety of our teens we need after school programs”

“For the safety of our teens we need after school programs”

ORANJESTAD — Carol Kock is a freelance consultant on policies and research who worked for more than twenty years for the government as a policy advisor in the field of Public Health and Social Affairs.  Recently the professional did research about the interest of Aruban youth for after school programs. The result is that over 60 % of the participants say yes to after school programs. “Our youth is home alone due to the necessity of parents that need to work to pay the bills. They are in a vulnerable situation and we can do something about it.”

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recently initiated a research about the status of the rights of children worldwide.  Aruba, being part of the Dutch Kingdom, was asked to send a report and for the input a survey was conducted among the secondary schools on Aruba. The Happy Community Initiative (HCI) at the same time is working on the funding for after school programs, and in that light they participated in the questionnaire for their specific interest. Three questions were incorporated: 1. would you be interested in the participation of an after school program? 2. What kind of activities would you like to do? 3. Which location would you choose?

A clear YES

Out of the 469 surveyed girls and boys 60.1% said yes to participation in an after school program, 20.7 % were not sure, and 19.2 % said no we do not want that. There is an equal amount of interest between girls and boys, in age the younger teens are more interested than the older teens. The type of school they attend is of influence too: the vocational school teens were less interested in after school programs than the students of higher general secondary education. For the survey almost all secondary schools are represented. Kock: “We selected a class at almost each school and introduced our survey. We have about 8000 youngsters on the island, the questionnaire represents this group very well and it is clear that teens are very much interested in a program after school.”

Sports are #1

The options for activities were homework support, cooking, sports, music/dance/theatre, crafts & arts, volunteer work and leisure time with friends. The first three chosen were sports, music/dance/theater and leisure with friends.  For both sexes sports is the number one activity, the girls prefer music/dance/theatre as a second choice, and surprisingly the boys put cooking as their number two preference. The location they prefer this to happen is the community center in their neighborhood.

Together we are strong

To gather as many stakeholders as possible in the area of youth a full day convention was organized by AsociacionTrabao di Hubentudna Aruba (ATHA) meaning the Association of Youth Workers together with CEDE _the founder of HCI. It turned out to be a very successful day. Kock explains that the goal of this day was to build the frame for a high quality after school program. “Think of sports clubs, NGO’s, GO’s, youngsters …. 45 organizations were invited and 39 attended. The group was divided into smaller groups and were set up to brainstorm about a concept, values and a clear frame to work within. There was also a group of teens charged with the task to decide a name for the program which is to be GEN297.” According to Kock it is essential to work on a solution and not be stuck in the problem. “You cannot always point fingers to parents, the reality is that we live on a tourist destination making life more expensive in general. For locals it is therefore in most cases necessary that both parents work. For single parents a fulltime job is a must to make sure the bills are being paid. Consequences are that the teens are home alone, lack attention and parental guidance. It makes them vulnerable and they are easier manipulated which brings them into unsafe situations.”