The Director of the institution, Mr. Dale Phipps, is of the view that there is much misunderstanding about the role the body is playing and about the quality of the students that are part of the initiative. It is believed that Project Strong has been set back and is not being recognized, as it should, for its true value to society. There are still people, said the Director, who “Look down on the institution and the people being trained”.
Mr. Phipps explained that when the opportunity presented itself to participate in the recent expo, as part of Consumer Awareness Week, in Independence Square, his department readily accepted, because they saw it as an ideal avenue to promote the ideals of the body.
Despite the many rocky and unstable conditions the institution has experienced, Phipps said they have managed to continue to uphold their mission as an educational institute that seeks to rehabilitate marginalized teenagers by enhancing their behaviour, raising their self esteem and providing training in marketable skills, to fit them for normal adult living.
He said Project Strong serves as an institute that gives young people who have dropped out of secondary school, and have not been given a fair chance in life, to develop a skill or a trade to become successful entrepreneurs, preparing them for the world of work. He said through this training they are helped to become better individuals generally.
Project Strong was started in 1998, under the guidance of veteran educator, Mr. Washington Archibald, and was inspired by former government minister, Dwyer Astaphan. It was first housed at the Factory Social Center building, at the former St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation, SSMC. However, by 2006, the students had outgrown that facility and new headquarters were found for them at their present location, at the old NEMA building, at Taylors Range, Basseterre.
The students in the program are trained in disciplines such as computer technology, fish pot making, creative arts, upholstery, dress making basketry, agriculture/farming, agro processing, skills development; all of which are used to assist them with their career development.