There are a number of initiatives in Saint Lucia that have been established to support young people who, for one reason or another, are not sufficiently qualified to find employment and/or who require some form of support or rehabilitation to enable them to successfully contribute to society. All the initiatives supported by our volunteer programme are either run or supported by Sacred Sports Foundation (SSF), an NGO dedicated to social development for Caribbean youth using sport as a catalyst for change in disadvantaged and troubled communities. The Foundation tackles critical social issues of unemployment, child welfare, crime and violence prevention, conflict resolution and health and youth development, fostering increased community participation in socially inclusive physical activity alongside efforts to promote gender awareness and alleviating discrimination of all kinds. Over the past 10 years Sacred Sports Foundation has delivered a range of after school programmes to well over 3,000 people, targeting at-risk youth, persons with disabilities, juvenile delinquents and young adolescent girls in typically poor and underserved communities. They have trained some 426 coaches in basic youth development, child safeguarding and special needs participatory programmes. SSF operates intiatives including the Caribbean's largest child safeguarding programme in sport and a comprehensive unemployed youth and coach training programme.
Volunteers will work under the SSF 'umbrella' either on their own programmes or with one of the organisations their training programmes support. As a volunteer in this programme, you will be matched to one or more organisations and locations, depending on where your particular skills and experience can best be used.
The largest initiative supported by SSF is The Centre for Adolescent Renewal and Education (C.A.R.E.), established in April 1993 to help disadvantaged young people to take control of their own lives. The programme is geared towards the promotion of self-empowerment by providing life skills, vocational and basic education in a nurturing and safe environment. Many young people find themselves ill equipped for life and unable to find employment. Some have failed to reach the required academic standards and left school with no formal qualifications. Others get hooked on drugs and/or turn to violence. Failure is very much part of their lives and, as a result of this lack of self-confidence, many radiate hostility and lack trust - they feel that no-one listened to them. C.A.R.E works with young people between the ages of 12 and 20. The objective of the programme is to foster positive attitudes in young people towards themselves, others and work, improving their communication, inter-personal, educational and vocational skills, empowering them towards leading a more independent life and training them to manage their own sexuality and emotions. C.A.R.E. is a highly respected organisation within Saint Lucia and is recognised and supported by the Department of Education. Many local businesses accept their trainees for work placements. There are several centres throughout the beautiful and lush island of Saint Lucia. Volunteers will be placed in the centre where their particular skills and support are appropriate and most needed.
'I met so many lovely and dedicated people working for the charity, and also on my travels in my spare time people I met spoke so highly of C.A.R.E. and the work it has done over many years.' Volunteer, Pat
Another initiative is Upton Gardens Girls' Centre, which works to rehabilitate underprivileged, abused, neglected or abandoned teenage girls on the verge of delinquency. The Centre aims to provide quality care to girls between the ages of 12 and 16 who are experiencing challenges navigating through adolescence, either at home or at school. Staff at the Centre aim to create an environment of warmth, trust and acceptance so that even the most difficult girls feel a sense of belonging.
A further initiative is the development of an environmentally friendly organic farm, where 22 previously unemployed young people are actively engaged, building their skills and capacity by providing them with training and environmental knowledge, and setting them up as environmental ambassadors within their own communities. The aims of the farm are to train local young people, and also to promote organic agriculture and through this to support income generation, nutritional development, natural resource conservation, food self-sufficiency and public awareness, ultimately leading to a reduction in poverty and improved health.
To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here