Jamaica Gleaner / Constable Ricardo McCalpin is transforming the lives of at-risk youth through poetry, music, and drama, empowering them with practical skills to combat negative influence and behaviours.

Facilitating a recent ReBirth Project workshop at the Webster Memorial United Church, McCalpin, founder of the ‘Fighting Crime with Rhymes’ Foundation and assistant director of the Safe Schools Programme, guided participating parents and students of the Norman Manley and Tivoli Gardens high schools, through exercises to showcase lessons learnt from the programme, utilising the performing arts. This activity formed part of the closing session of The ReBirth Project: Phase 3.

Under this stage’s theme, ‘Respect, Restraint and Responsibility’, The ReBirth Project conducted eight interactive/motivational sessions focusing on behaviour modification, with some of Jamaica’s most accomplished facilitators in their respective fields. The last in the series led by McCalpin, which saw parents and students encouraged to use the performing arts as a positive channel to best express their thoughts, feelings, and reactions toward negative stimuli. Participants crafted songs, poems and dramatic pieces regarding issues facing them including drug abuse, anger, conflict management, poor parent-child relations, and child abuse.

Incorporating the performing arts through his initiative, ‘Fighting Crime with Rhymes’, McCalpin expects to use music, the spoken word, and dramatic expressions as new approaches to crimefighting, and to inspire and engage young minds. The constable and his team will be visiting several high schools across Jamaica to sing/deejay and spread the message of youth empowerment and positive development through music. He feels that, “If the lyrics are cleaner and more positive, the youths will follow.”

The team consists of Orisha Sound, singer and an accomplished musician from Russia, as well as Michael ‘Askel’ Fairman and ‘Drum Sticks’.

Participants lauded the efforts of The ReBirth Project and McCalpin as parents and children spoke of the positive changes they have seen in themselves as a result of the project’s intervention.

The ReBirth Project is an initiative of MC&Associates, founded by Melody Cammock Gayle, Michelle Cunningham, and Carolyn Johnson. The project targets at-risk youth from the Norman Manley and Tivoli Gardens high schools, from 13-16 years, selected by guidance counsellors. It aims to promote high academic standards and reduce delinquency. Phase 4 is set to begin in February 2017.


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