Mayor William Miranda Marin

(Self esteem development camp)

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

This program is addressed to out of school youth in the ages of sixteen to twenty-one. It focuses on their personal and character development to facilitate their transition into a serious, responsible, working and committed citizen with our community, their families and themselves. Programmatic activities are scheduled on health, academic and vocational training, and human development. Participants reside as interns in a Guest House which is part of a Sports Complex owned by the City, under the supervision of a Director, several coordinators, leaders, teachers, nurses and other staff. The Mayor himself participates with them on their daily early morning physical exercises as well as in many other activities. While residing in the premises, academic subjects are taught to prepare them for ninth grade or high school equivalence tests according to their needs. In addition, they receive vocational education to become apprentices on a job or trade. During evenings they participate on perhaps some of the most important lessons they need: activities in human values. These are intended to provide them with the necessary values and tools that will enable them to evolve. After completion of the four months of residence a follow-up program is implemented to ascertain their continuing studies or work. Residence facilities at the Sports Complex are being reformed to improve their capacity to accommodate the increase in demand for attendance.

2. When was the program created and why?

The program started on 17 September, 1997. It was prompted by the Mayor’ concern and desire to provide alternatives to our city school deserting and unemployed youth. The purpose is to integrate them into the labor force through the learning of a trade, or to return to a mainstream educational program with better attitudes, a modified behavioral pattern and an improved self-esteem. In order to achieve these objectives different conferences and workshops are presented by highly qualified personnel such as: professional counselors, psychologists, and, non sectarian religious leaders.

3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?

Program effectiveness has been measured based upon the results of the First Camp and the follow-up activities on the participants that completed it. Some of them have continued studies towards a formal technical job training, others have started a job, those that completed their ninth grade equivalence test have continued studies to complete the high school diploma and plan to continue unto post-secondary schooling. Some have married and started a family.

4. How is the program financed?

The program is totally financed with funds from the Municipality of Caguas with no additional state nor federal funds received.

5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?

Community involvement is achieved in various forms: sports competitions with community groups, collaboration of several post-secondary vocational schools and community based institutions. The attendees also participate in community activities such as help at elderly centers and cleaning and beautification of public places. In addition many religious leaders and prominent professionals volunteer their services.

6. What are major lessons learned from the programs?

The participants were highly motivated to continue their studies, to find a job and in general to improve their life quality. All this was accomplished through a variety of activities that included: physical fitness activities, workshops, seminars, conferences, cultural trips, social events, workshops on self-esteem and emotional and spiritual development, non sectarian religious counseling and personal development education.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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