Three staff members at a charity helping to empower Bermuda’s children to make healthy choices have successfully completed an international training course – allowing them to train school staff in methods to reduce behaviour problems.

Lisa Brewster, Marina Sousa and Samantha Smith, who all work for PRIDE Bermuda, recently undertook the Affiliate Trainer course for the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) Programme.

A spokesperson said: “They had to go through a week of rigorous training to qualify and are now able to train school personnel to facilitate the programme and have it implemented school-wide.

Truell Landy, Interim Executive Director for PRIDE said the programme aimed to give teachers the tools to help cut problems with students’ behaviour.

“This means we have even more people who are able to teach the Programme in more schools. It already exists in three and we have seen how it has a positive effect on students. We are very grateful to our sponsors, the Bank of Bermuda Foundation for making this happen.”

Lisa Brewster, a Programme Coordinator, said she was introduced to the PATHS curriculum when she started working at the charity three years ago.

“Right away, I could see that the programme was helping the students. The programme is evidence-based and proven in many jurisdictions across many countries.

“I attended a PATHS conference and I realized how impactful the curriculum can be if embraced by the whole school. It becomes a culture for the school where the custodians, teachers, administrators and students are all speaking the same language.

“This language produces kind, caring individuals, who exercise self control, empathy, and a thirst for being the best they can be at whatever they set out to do,” said Ms Brewster.

“When the opportunity came to become a trainer, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. Training others and coaching them is like being the pebble dropped in the sea. The philosophy and practices will spread, just like the ripples in the ocean.”

Marina Sousa, Programme Facilitator/Evaluator, said she wanted to complete the course “because I wished to teach others to empower students”.

“The PATHS Programme teaches students how to speak about their feelings instead of reacting physically. It gives them a voice.

“As the programme was made for teachers to teach in their classrooms, I knew that training teachers was the next step. Achieving the training has helped me to be more confident speaking in front of adults.

“My next step is to attain the next level of training so that I can train others in other jurisdictions all over the world.

“I welcome the adventure and hope to one day see PATHS as something everyone talks about and enjoys.”

And Samatha Smith, PRIDE Programme Supervisor, said she seen at first hand the impact the programme was having on students.

“I was able to see how important it was for the programme to be run by teachers as opposed to an external energy.

“The power of the programme, when delivered as per design, is to change the culture of a school for the better. It will positively impact students, teachers and support staff alike. Knowing this I was really keen to work with the PRIDE team to make school-wide implementation happen in an economical and sustainable way,” she added.

“By having our programme team trained to train schools in Bermuda we have developed relationships with the developers of PATHS, key personnel at the Ministry of Education, the staff and administrators at the schools we service. This puts us on path to supporting effective social-emotional development in youth, and ultimately a better Bermuda.

“It is our goal is to make Bermuda aware that PRIDE, as a substance abuse prevention organization, is committed to building resilient, empathic, social-emotionally aware, positive decision makers.”