The Virgin Islands Police Department Crime Prevention Bureau is seeking youth and adult mentors for their DEFY summer program, Police Commissioner Novelle E. Francis Jr. announced.
The Drug Education For Youth, or DEFY program, promotes self-esteem in youth ages 9 through 12, instilling in them the tools they need to resist drugs, gangs, alcohol, and illegal gun use, he said.
DEFY is directed by the VIPD Weed and Seed programs located in Estates Bovoni and Tutu on St. Thomas and Estate Grove Place on St. Croix in conjunction with the Virgin Islands National Guard.
Camp DEFY will be held at the Virgin Islands Environmental Resources Station (VIERS) located at Lakeshore Bay on St. John during the week of Aug. 8 through 13. A total of 30 youth will be accepted into this program; 15 from the St. Croix district and 15 from the St. Thomas/St. John district.
The Weed and Seed program is a national crime prevention strategy that aims to prevent, control and reduce violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in designated neighborhoods, according to a release from the police department.
DEFY focuses on building self-image and goal setting skills in youth. It stresses interpersonal relations and emphasizes leadership and teamwork while raising awareness of the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs, as well as the dangerous consequences of peer pressure to join gangs.
The structured curriculum offers education, skill development and physical fitness. DEFY creates a positive experience so participants will choose healthy alternatives instead of substance abuse and gang involvement. DEFY participants are placed in youth organizations and continue to be mentored for at least a year after graduation.
“The program is in need of positive role models and mentors from the community,” Francis said. “If you are interested in having a fun, educational and life changing experience with Camp DEFY please contact Officer Edith Stevens on St. Croix at 719-6940. If you are on St. Thomas or St. John or contact Jacqueline Freeman or Officer Adrien Huggins at 344-4516 or 777-4919.”
Adult and youth mentors must be able to pass a police background check, added the commissioner.