Central America News

Making a Difference: Your G.R.E.A.T. Legacy -- 2019 G.R.E.A.T. Training Conference On October 14¬–16, 2019, the G.R.E.A.T. Program hosted its second Central American G.R.E.A.T. Training Conference in San Salvador, El Salvador. This was a two-and-a-half-day event for 236 attendees representing six Central American countries. The conference was presented in both Spanish and English, with the help of simultaneous interpretation and bilingual materials. At this year’s conference, titled “Making a Difference: Your G.R.E.A.T. Legacy,” speakers presented a total of 22 workshops and three plenary sessions, all designed to remind participants that each child is an opportunity to make a lasting difference. Presentation topics ranged from “Discipline in the Classroom” and “Engaging Youth in Public Safety Through Leadership Programs” to “Sexual Diversity Concepts” and “Ethics in the G.R.E.A.T. Workplace.” Attendees also participated in country-specific networking sessions and a hands-on workshop on games to play with students when hosting a G.R.E.A.T. Summer Program. The feedback from the conference was tremendously positive—the main complaint was that the conference was not long enough. “This excellent conference is creating a G.R.E.A.T. impact in my personal life. It has inspired me to be all that I can be and to inspire the children with whom I come into daily contact.” “The information was well-received and renewed my motivation and hope in the work I’m doing.” “The organization of this event was impeccable.” Two award-winning youth dance teams from El Salvador kicked off the conference with dance performances. The G.R.E.A.T. mascot, Paxton, made appearances during registration and the closing ceremony, which added to the uniqueness and fun of this event. Our closing speakers, Carlos “Famoso” Hernández (former International Boxing Federation super featherweight champion and the first Salvadoran world champion in any sport) and his wife, sports psychologist Verónica Hernández, emphasized the importance of understanding how to overcome our obstacles to make a difference in the lives of the youth we encounter. Their message was impactful. To see pictures from the 2019 G.R.E.A.T. Training Conference, visit the G.R.E.A.T. Facebook page.

El Salvador Makes a Positive Impact with the G.R.E.A.T. Summer Program

The National Civil Police (PNC) of rural San Salvador sought to reach the youth in its communities during the months when the students were not in school. In a huge combined effort, the San Salvador North delegation hosted a G.R.E.A.T. Summer Program for students from five different schools who have received the G.R.E.A.T. Program. In this way, the G.R.E.A.T. instructors were able to positively impact 250 youths by leading them in several games while at the same time reinforcing their G.R.E.A.T. skills. Click here to read more about this positive effort.

Youth share and reinforce G.R.E.A.T. values in a camp organized by the Panama National Police

The Panama National Police recently executed its G.R.E.A.T. Summer Program for 2018, and it was an amazing success. Under the leadership of Captain Stefanie Anorio, G.R.E.A.T. Instructor Jonathan Canto, with a team of 28 G.R.E.A.T. instructors, worked with over 100 youth to reinforce the G.R.E.A.T. skills that were taught during the school year. These students came from throughout Panama to participate in this G.R.E.A.T. summer camp. Over the course of three days and two nights, the students participated in team-building exercises, learned about the value of making good decisions, and strengthened their relationships with these law enforcement officers. Click here to learn more about this successful G.R.E.A.T. Summer Program.

G.R.E.A.T. Program 2017 in Honduras

Throughout 2017, the G.R.E.A.T. Program in Honduras made enormous strides. Nearly 87,000 students from 276 schools across 17 departments of Honduras graduated from the Program. In addition, the G.R.E.A.T. Program in Honduras saw an increase of 88 new certified G.R.E.A.T. instructors! With the growth of certified instructors comes the ability to reach more schools and communities. In 2017, G.R.E.A.T. Honduras saw 52 school/community-based projects funded and hosted 26 G.R.E.A.T. Summer Programs, reaching a total of 2,600 at-risk youth. Please join us in congratulating the G.R.E.A.T. Program in Honduras for achieving such tremendous success over the past year. Click here to view a short video that captures some of the 2017 G.R.E.A.T. accomplishments in Honduras!

G.R.E.A.T. Success: Honduras G.R.E.A.T. Program

Two major aims of the G.R.E.A.T. Program are (1) providing youth with the skills they need to avoid gangs and violence and (2) improving relationships between youth and the law enforcement officers in their communities. The G.R.E.A.T. Program in Honduras has been working very hard over the past seven years to achieve those aims and has been very successful in their efforts. To date, more than 160,000 Honduran children have participated in the G.R.E.A.T. Program and more than 116 instructors have been trained to teach this Program nationwide. Click here to read more about the success of the G.R.E.A.T. Program in Honduras.

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El Salvador Police achieved G.R.E.A.T. Success

The National Civil Police of El Salvador achieved many successes with the G.R.E.A.T. Program in 2017. Throughout the year, G.R.E.A.T. instructors taught the Program in 274 middle and elementary schools, with a grand total of 31,682 students graduating from the Program. In addition, G.R.E.A.T. Summer Programs were hosted throughout El Salvador, working with a total of 114 youth across 10 departments throughout the country. Click here to view a short video that captures some of El Salvador's 2017 G.R.E.A.T. accomplishments!

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.

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.

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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