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Program for Improving Student Behavior to Conclude with Weekend Celebration

Aug. 21, 2007 — Positive Leaders of the Next Generation, a program created to help students with behavioral issues realize their potential to become positive leaders, will conclude its summer activities with a fun day this weekend at the Sand Bar in Frederiksted.
Program Director Henry James has been working with young people for years.
"When it comes to kids, I don’t put a time frame on it," he said. The idea for the program came through James' St. Croix School Safety Patrol program, which has been operating in the public school system for four years.
During the course of the safety program, James found that many of the wrongdoers in the schools were repeat offenders who seemed to be on a path of no return. Their teachers had given up and their principals were out of ideas on how to turn them around, James said. Student patrollers found some students getting disciplined routinely for behavioral issues.
James began speaking to teachers and parents about those children and decided to create a program aimed at allowing them to face their behavior and overcome it. With the help of VIPD Officer Richard White, James created the Positive Leaders program, bringing positive role models of all ages over the summer to Patrick Sweeney police headquarters to speak to students about changing their behavior. Community leaders, including representatives from Central High School's ROTC and Chief of Police Thomas Hannah, showed students the benefits of changing their lives.
The program not only targets children with disciplinary issues, but also gives their parents guidance, James said.
"We were able to help parents accept where they went wrong," he said. According to James, the program has helped bridge the communication gap between parent and child.
"We can only do so much," he said. "The parent has to take the bull by the horns and continue the pattern we created."
To celebrate the students’ accomplishments, the program will conclude with a fun day with games and activities for children of all ages. Kayaks and jet skis will hit the water, volleyballs will be spiked and songs will be sung loudly and off-key into a karaoke machine — all to praise the students for taking the necessary steps toward changing their lives. The day will begin at 6:30 a.m. with a walkathon from the Sunshine Mall to the Sand Bar. The party will continue until 6:30 p.m.
"My phone is never off," James said. He encourages parents and educators to contact him if they feel they can use his help. Some of James' students are as young as 5. His commitment to the younger generation is strengthened when one of his former students comes to him as a grownup and tells him their life was changed because of him, James said.
"It's good to see the seeds I have planted grow," he said.
For more information on Positive Leaders of the Next Generation, contact Henry James at 332-7252. The community may also make donations to the program by mail to: P.O. Box 1863, Frederiksted, VI 00841.
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