Beetham youth pick up cameras, drop guns

By Jensen LaVende
Story Created: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM ECT
Story Updated: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM ECT
FOR 15 weeks, young men in Beetham Gardens were involved in shoot-outs, but instead of a firearm, the youths had cameras in hand and their targets were anything within their sight.
The youngsters, between the ages of 15 and 18, were part of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), who worked along with the Citizens Security Programme (CSP) for the three-month plan, which is in its second year.
The programme, entitled “Shoot to Live”, seeks to “point youth toward positive targets”, Community and Youth Specialist of CSP Ryssa Brathwaite-Tobias said.
Shoot to Live focuses on photography and videography as a pre-emptive crime-fighting tool.
Yesterday the teens displayed their photographs at the Medulla Art Gallery, Fitt Street, Woodbrook during a graduation ceremony.
The video work will be featured at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival at MovieTowne on September 26. The six-minute-long film is entitled Shoot to Live and stars Adam Williams, who said the movie is about how the challenges of life can turn a “good boy to a bad boy”.
Williams said he enjoyed the production and his only regret was that the programme lasted only 15 weeks.
Apart from the video, the photographs taken by the youths are expected to form part of a roving exhibition that will be showcased at the nation’s libraries and in some schools.
Braithwaite-Tobias told the Express that coordinators of YMCA, who worked closely with the young men, are planning on establishing a photographic club in the area to keep the young men involved in the field, which they have come to appreciate.
Last year, another batch of young men graduated at Diego Martin North Secondary School in the CSP’s first Shoot to Live initiative. Those targeted then were deemed to be the “trouble makers” of the school.
Co-ordinators said that they saw a positive turnaround in the behaviour of the young men following the programme.
With this year’s batch, the teenagers all volunteered to be a part of the programme, with no promises of rewards.
The cost of the project, which includes last year’s stint, is $230,000 and includes the cost of equipment and payment for staff workers.