Camps make a difference for teens Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
July 22, 2004

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JAMAICAN-born Ann-Marie Coore is changing the lives of Caribbean youths with her HIV/AIDS, STDs, teen pregnancy prevention camps being held around the region.

Coore, who has been residing overseas for the past 21 years, is the founder of the Coore Foundation, which was established in 2000, and the programme's main financial source.

She spoke to the Chronicle Tuesday, at the Young Womenís Christian Association (YWCA) office on Brickdam, Georgetown, where 60 youths from Guyana, especially East Coast Demerara villages, were gathered for a seven-day camp.

At the end of the training, the young people between 10 and 18 years old, will become certified International Red Cross HIV/AIDS Peer Educators, equipped with knowledge about the infection and will be able to educate their peers in schools and churches.

The camps held under the theme `Together we caní, teaches young people about the spread of HIV and STDs, how they can protect themselves, practise making good decisions and sharing the knowledge with others.

According to Coore, Guyana is the second country to have the programme this year. The first was St. Lucia while Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti will have theirs before the end of October.

The youths are drawn from high-risk communities in the various countries, and their activities for the 30-hour workshop include outdoor recreation that promotes fun, confidence and leadership skills, and daily one-on-one mentorship by volunteer counsellors.

"There are lots of games and activities, videos, music so that the kids don't get bored", Coore said.

Coore Foundationís partners in Guyana, Lifeline Counselling, Women across Differences and Guybernet selected the children for the camp.

The aim of the foundation is to build libraries in Caribbean schools so that the students can be better educated, and to distribute shoes to the less fortunate children in various communities.

It was this exercise that brought about the awareness that most of the youths who benefited from the distribution were either affected or infected with the dreaded disease, causing the programme to be born.

It was launched for the first time in Jamaica last year, and because of the positive impact it had on that country's youths, other islands began contacting Coore to have the programme launched in their country as well.

It was also her passion to give back to the Caribbean and help in the infrastructure development of education, especially schools, since education was always important in her family, she said.

"To give a kid an education, it to give them a tool for life, it helps them become thinkers and doers", Coore explained.

Youths at the camp were drawn from Plaisance, Beterverwagting and other East Coast villages and a graduation ceremony for them would be held tomorrow at the YWCA.

Coore has a Masters in International Business with special focus on Entrepreneur Development and Small Business Management, a Masters in Health Education and Promotion and is working on her PhD in International Business.