Central America News

Panama Police Launch Unique Community Outreach Program

The National Police of Panama works with many programs, including the G.R.E.A.T. Program, with the goal of protecting the nation’s youth from drugs, gangs, and violence. Each year, the Ninth District of the National Police, in Veraguas Province, selects a student who participates in one of its prevention programs to receive special assistance. The student selected must be making efforts to perform well in school despite living in precarious conditions. The police build a new home for the student and his or her family. In November 2016, the National Police of Panama chose Analida Virola García, a G.R.E.A.T. student. The following video shows the conditions in which the family was living prior to the project, the officers building the house, and the finished project. There is also a statement of thanks from the G.R.E.A.T. student. This is a very impressive project and certainly a wonderful way for the police to build goodwill in the communities in which they serve.

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2017 G.R.E.A.T. Training Conference

G.R.E.A.T.'s first training conference in Central America was held in Panama City, Panama, January 25−27, 2017. There were 234 attendees, including G.R.E.A.T. instructors from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. While G.R.E.A.T. routinely holds trainings in Central America that are provided in both English and Spanish languages simultaneously, this conference was the first of its magnitude since the Program began in Central America in 2009. The G.R.E.A.T. vision statement, “Building Safer Communities One Child at a Time,” was the theme for this conference, which included five plenary sessions, 20 breakout sessions, and a networking session for each country. Several guest highlights included a welcome by Kevin O’Reilly, Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Panama; two youths who gave testimony of how the G.R.E.A.T. Program has changed their lives; and youth who performed a traditional Panamanian folk dance called “El Punto.” Also, Carlos “Famoso” Hernández, a Salvadoran-American super featherweight boxing world champion, and his wife, Verónica, were keynote speakers.

To view photos from the conference, click here.

G.R.E.A.T. Song

G.R.E.A.T. instructors Minor Rojas Gutierrez and Martin Alvarado Loria, police officers from Turrialba in Costa Rica, wrote and produced a song, "Canción G.R.E.A.T.," in an effort to reach out to youth in a creative way. The song talks about the overall message of the G.R.E.A.T. Program and encourages youth to stay away from gangs, drugs, and poor choices!

Click here to download and listen to this expressive, energetic song, and click here to download the lyrics.

950 G.R.E.A.T. Students Graduate in Honduras

At the conclusion of the G.R.E.A.T. Officer Training (GOT) held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in April 2015, Honduran school students and newly certified G.R.E.A.T. instructors participated in a grand graduation ceremony.

The graduation was held at the Cobra Squadron, Special Operations Center, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Chief Jose Mejia and several high-ranking officers from the Honduras National Police; Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) representatives Erin Lane, Eduardo Barahona, and Alejandra Flores from the U.S. Embassy; and the G.R.E.A.T. Training Team were in attendance during the ceremony.

Hondurans bussed in nearly 950 G.R.E.A.T. students from several different schools who had completed the elementary and/or middle school curriculum. Select students from each school were recognized individually and given certificates for their schools/grades. The ceremony also honored the 48 newly certified G.R.E.A.T. instructors who had just completed the GOT.

The ceremony consisted of a performance by the color guard, followed by the Honduran national anthem and the United States national anthem. Several officials gave remarks, followed by the presentation of certificates, first to the students and then to the new G.R.E.A.T. instructors. The students performed for the attendees by singing and dancing. At the end of the ceremony, the INL and the U.S. Embassy presented the Honduras National Police G.R.E.A.T. Program with several new vans wrapped in the G.R.E.A.T. handbook cover artwork. These vans will enable Honduran G.R.E.A.T. instructors to reach and serve many more schools and children, including those in remote areas who have previously been unserved.

Check Out the New G.R.E.A.T. Web Site

The G.R.E.A.T. Program is excited to announce the launch of its new, completely redesigned Web site, which features an English and Spanish interface, changeable via a toggle icon. The Web site includes interactive maps to enable visitors to view upcoming trainings in their own regions; automated online applications for all training events as well as online forms for instructors to order student handbooks and Families workbooks; and separate “tracks” for law enforcement, educators, parents/guardians, students, and the public to more easily find the information most relevant to them. An enhanced G.R.E.A.T. News page will allow instructors and others to submit stories about the G.R.E.A.T. Program electronically. The new site is mobile-friendly; i.e., optimized for viewing on smartphones and tablets.

Choose to Be G.R.E.A.T. Week – October 19–23, 2015

The second annual “Choose to Be G.R.E.A.T.” Week is only a month away; how are you and your agency preparing? With the success of our first annual “Choose to Be G.R.E.A.T.” Day, we have extended it to a week, allowing all of our G.R.E.A.T. students and instructors to participate during their scheduled class time.

The G.R.E.A.T. Pledge can be downloaded from your Instructor/Applicant Resources account.

Name the G.R.E.A.T. Bird Contest

The G.R.E.A.T. Bird needs a name, and who better to help name the G.R.E.A.T. Bird than G.R.E.A.T. students? The Name the G.R.E.A.T. Bird contest began on August 31,and all applications are due to the G.R.E.A.T. Program Office by October 9, 2015. The Name the G.R.E.A.T. Bird contest applications and instructions have been e-mailed to G.R.E.A.T. instructors.

News and Photos from the Panama G.R.E.A.T. Program

Scenes from recent G.R.E.A.T. classes in the Capital Sector of Panama.

 

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