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National Guard Workshops Give Youths Problem-Solving Skills

D'Yanti Woodley (left) and Izhani Rosa at the weekend workshop. The V.I. National Guard Family Youth Workshops got off to a shaky start Friday, with Seaborne canceling flights and St. Thomas youths having a difficult time getting to St. Croix. But everything was going so well by Sunday, "Some of the youths didn’t want the workshops to end," according to organizer Rhalina E. LaPlace.

The Guard Youth Team Building Workshops, sponsored by the Guard Family Program Office, ranged from resolving family problems without violence to activities that were just plain fun.

The workshops took palce at the Divi Bay Casino and Resort, attended by 75 youths, ranging in age from 6 to 17.

Izhani Rosa, 9, whose father is in the Guard, enjoyed a team-leadership workshop that was both serious and fun. She said she liked the workshop where one youngster blew up a balloon, another tied it and a third sat it on until it broke.

D’Yanti Woodley, whose mother and father are both members of the Guard, said he enjoyed the time in the pool and the prizes given out.

The largest segment of youth attending was teenagers, totaling 45. They had more sophisticated workshops.

Yahairo Olmed said she particularly enjoyed a role-playing workshop that showed how to solve domestic issues without violence.

"I liked the guest speakers," said Lanique Rivera, another teenager. "I liked it all."

Several of the half dozen youths interviewed by the Source Sunday said they liked that they were able to meet new people and interact with them.

"It was nice that we were able to learn so much that will help us prepare for our future," said Shenea Abrahan, another teenager.

Many of the youths have a family member who has been deployed, recently returned from deployment or is set to be deployed overseas.

"The most important thing for the public to know is that these children are in our community, in our classrooms," LaPlace said. "One of the most difficult things a child can face is having their parent deployed."

In a few cases in recent years, a child has had both parents deployed at the same time, she said.

"I am glad that our program can reach out and provide the resources these youngsters need," said LaPlace, the state youth coordinator with the V. I. National Guard Family Program Office.

The workshops were 45 minutes long and covered leadership, resiliency, team building, character building, self-esteem and healthy living. Presenters were called in from the States. However, the Guard Family Program Office also offers monthly programs using local staff.

LaPlace said her one regret was that the weekend program could not have been longer and larger. The 75 slots were quickly filled and there were 30 youngsters on a waiting list, she . Next year’s program is scheduled to be held on St. Thomas.

For more information about the Guard’s Family Program Office, call 712-7797.

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