GPD youth summer program a rousing success

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GPD's Project U was a month-long youth summer program where teen participants, ages 14 to 17 years old, participated in various activities with GPD, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. (PNC photo)

The Guam Police Department just wrapped up its new youth program and it was a rousing success.

GPD’s Project U was a month-long youth summer program where teen participants, ages 14 to 17 years old, participated in various activities with GPD, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.

This was the first time in GPD’s history that they hosted a program like this for the island community.

GPD PIO Sgt. Paul Tapao tells PNC that throughout the program, they had designated days with their non-profit and government partners where the participants engaged in activities from mentorships, learning the ins and outs of police work to playing sports at the Football Association Training Center.

Tapao adds that working with the youth in the program was truly rewarding and he thanks the parents for believing in GPD and entrusting their children to participate.

He also credits the participants and their families for the success of their pilot program.

“From the start, from cradle to grave, we were able to see the kids slowly gravitate towards the curriculum we gave to them. Like I said, from being in their comfort zone and in their shell, to really bring down the barriers and wanting to be first, wanting to open up, wanting to engage, giving them encouragement. Inclusiveness was really important because we had participants from different ethnicities and backgrounds and seeing them work together, it’s something we can bring forth to the community, and something in this magnitude, we can actually transcend it such as in schools and afterschool activities,” Tapao said.

Two of the participants — Wyatt Gimenez, 14 and Jashawn Prince San Agustin, 16 — echoed Tapao’s sentiments based on their experiences with the program.

They felt like they were treated as equals and even given a new perspective of Guam’s law enforcement.

“If I were to see any of the police officers, I’ll be more than welcome to say hi to them. I see them as human beings. You know, everyone has feelings so the police, we see them from a good point of view. I give these guys a lot of props because what they do is not easy. There’s a lot of stuff that’s not being reported. That doesn’t go to the news you guys hear but they really do a good job and I really respect what they do,” San Agustin said.

Wyatt Gimenez said: “It’s been very helpful because they try to, with this program that they’re doing, they’re trying to make us learn, they try to teach us, make us learn what we want to do for our future. They allow us to do all these other things that not even some of us have ever done before. So they let you try it and if you like it, you can do it for your future.”

With the success of the program, Tapao says that Project U is now an overarching umbrella of all of GPD’s youth-based initiatives and more could be on the way.

He says GPD plans to meet and see all of the good and bad aspects of the program and see if they can apply them next year if given the approval to bring the program back as well as for future initiatives.

Throughout the program, GPD had designated days with their non-profit and government partners where the participants engaged in activities from mentorships, learning the ins and outs of police work, to playing sports at the Football Association Training Center.

He adds that each activity is shown to the youth to engage in more positive outlets, empower them with good decision-making skills, and provide them the opportunity to work with law enforcement.

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