Caritas Freetown & Brown University Wrap Up Youth Readiness Intervention (YRI) Training

By Alvin Lansana Kargbo

The Youth Readiness Intervention (YRI) training program, jointly organized by Caritas Freetown in partnership with Brown University, and generously funded by the US-based National Institute for Mental Health, concluded on a high note with a grand closing ceremony. Running from August 21st to September 1st, 2023, the training culminated at St. Anthony’s Parish Hall on Syke Street, Freetown.

The primary goal of the YRI training was to equip educators with the essential skills and knowledge necessary for effectively implementing the YRI program within educational institutions. The YRI initiative centers on providing psychosocial and mental health support to young people, with a focus on raising awareness about the profound impact of psychosocial factors on mental well-being.

Reverend Father Peter Alpha Konteh, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, expressed heartfelt appreciation to all the participants for their unwavering dedication and commitment to enhancing the mental health and overall well-being of young individuals. He underscored the significance of fostering a supportive and nurturing environment where youth can flourish and reach their full potentials.

The Project Coordinator, Caritas Freetown, highlighted the transformative potential of the YRI program within the Secondary School System (SSS). She emphasized that the program aims to equip students with vital life skills, impart emotional management techniques, improve their interpersonal relationships and promote resilience. By prioritizing group cohesion and offering valuable tools for emotional well-being, the YRI in Schools Program strives to empower and bolster support for young people.

Unisa Jalloh, the Project Manager, disclosed that the training had successfully equipped teachers with the requisite skills to introduce the YRI as an extra-curricular activity in 40 schools across the Western Region. In the upcoming academic year, approximately 980 Sierra Leonean youths aged 14 to 24 are poised to benefit from the program. An additional ten schools will be incorporated into the YRI training once the final results from the ongoing project analysis are available.

He further explained that the expansion of this program within the educational system is geared towards addressing the growing mental health needs of Sierra Leonean youth and preparing them for significant life opportunities. The knowledge imparted to teachers will be passed on to selected pupils within their respective schools, ensuring the widespread dissemination of skills and knowledge.

Fatoma Momoh expressed her confidence in the YRI in Schools program and its potential to make a profound impact on the lives of the youth it serves. By concentrating on group cohesion, emotional regulation, effective communication, and interpersonal skills, this initiative aims to empower young individuals, making them resilient, self-assured, and well-prepared to confront the challenges of the contemporary world.

The closing ceremony not only marked the conclusion of an intensive training program but also the commencement of a new chapter in the lives of participating educators and, subsequently, the youth of Sierra Leone.

With the YRI program now firmly integrated into schools, there is hope that its positive influence will resonate throughout the education system, nurturing a generation of mentally resilient and emotionally strong individuals, ready to seize promising opportunities and make meaningful contributions to society.


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