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Posted: Thursday 26 August, 2010 at 2:00 PM

A place for second chances – Windsor University School of Medicine

Dr. Vishal Surender explaining about the various work stations the participants will be working on. – Alaa Awad
By: Arshia Hussaini – MD 1

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - With smiles on their faces a group of young teens describe their experiences this summer at Community Achievers Project (CAP), a program which seeks to educate and motivate the minds of teens of St. Kitts and Nevis through vocational activities.


    If you were to listen to them you would hear a different story from each teen as they tell you about what they are learning. For these teens, it’s the first time that learning has transformed their outlook on life as the CAP program has developed their self-esteem, community awareness, and discipline.


    The CAP program takes place at Windsor University School of Medicine (WUSM) which was accepted and allowed with open arms by Mr. Ramesh Mulkanoor, Administrator, Windsor Medical University and is coordinated by Dr. Vishal Surender, a professor of physiology.


    The CAP A Ganar program is partnered with Basseterre High School, funded by USAID, and administered by Partners of the Americas, receives twenty teens that most likely would have been kicked out of school because they did not pass the required exams to pass to Fifth Form.


    CAP was originally founded five years ago by Victoria Baucom, an activist who has dedicated herself to giving these kids a second chance in life. Dr. Vishal and Victoria both believe that the service-learning projects that CAP offers are an excellent investment in our youth and will pay off in the future by instilling positive values in these teens to stay motivated to learn all their lives. The program itself is a six-month program held five days a week that began in May and is geared towards expanding the horizons of young teens by providing them with experiences outside the classroom.
    The students who attend CAP are all socially, academically and/or economically disadvantaged youth who had underperformed at school and had little to no hope for a bright future. Their mental and social development at school was absent as they began to skip school and disobey their parents. Many of their peers often end up attracted to gangs and other counterproductive activities. If this type of program was not available or if Windsor University would not have stepped in, these youth would have faced a similar future.


    These teens have benefited tremendously, thanks to the resources and outreach provided by Windsor University. Windsor has always had a long tradition of producing physicians that desire to help humanity through self-awareness in order to respect and improve human life. The university creates an excellent atmosphere for learning and development.


    During this short period of time, Dr. Vishal has witnessed the transformation in these teens’ lives as they have become motivated to prove themselves in every endeavor available with CAP. As each day passes, the teens learn new skills involving administrative work in the office and library, home improvement such as engineering, landscaping and kitchen and bathroom maintenance where they must cooperate with others and learn to become leaders. They also learn to farm peanuts and fruits due to the generous use of a plot of land by Sydney Berkeley, a partner in CAP. Windsor’s all-volunteer staff works closely with each teen and helps develop their skills and talents.


    The students of Windsor University also volunteer their time with the project via Student Government, AMSA, and Students for Health. The CAP and A Ganar program at Windsor is run in four phases. Some of the vocational skills that are taught in the first phase focus on communication, respect, discipline, teamwork, and personal development. Windsor also contributes a generous amount to the program each month for food expenses. Windsor University, in collaboration with its professors and students are making a remarkable difference by giving back to the community.  Windsor has opened the eyes of these young kids and has given them a reason to view life in a different perspective, such as taking interest in learning about different occupations and even thinking about going to a university such as WUSM to study medicine.


    One of the best outcomes of the CAP project is how supportive the teens are of the program. They are the ones who have benefitted from the program and at the same time are also the ones who show up every day eager to learn when they could have spent their summer vacation at home. Through the help of Windsor University’s staff and students the CAP A Ganar program has been empowered in its capabilities to help educate and motivate the disadvantaged youth in our community.


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