St Margaret’s College in Bormla is a college responsible for many schools. It recognised the need for specialized support for girls of 11+ years with social, emotional and behavioural problems.
They approached SI Malta for help in funding Learning Support Zones, where these young women, through individually tailored programs were given support and shown coping strategies to deal with their own personal difficult situations and issues.
In 2011 alone, 10 girls were referred to LSZ. By engaging in learning activities such as crafts, sports and cooking, they were able to interact meaningfully with others, acting as a team, not just individually, and to learn skills that would stand them in good stead in later life.
The environment is a congenial one, having plants, scented candles, decorations at Christmas, bean bag chairs and many other elements to give comfortable surroundings to the girls. A reward system for progress takes the form of gifts “earned” such as costume jewellery, computer games, and hair/beauty educational vouchers.
An outing to St Julian’s for a piano recital, and a trip to the Malta Experience in Valletta, sponsored by our organisation, took some of the girls into other areas of Malta, where they were exposed to different social environments and enjoyed a different cultural scenario. This enlightened some of the girls, who before the event had felt it would not be their “scene”, and generated aspirations for the future. The welcome they were given and the interactions they engaged in on these trips helped them realise that an alternative lifestyle existed and was possible for them.
Out of this project, a summer youth club project was developed, beginning with girls but extending also to boys, so that the summers would not leave the young people on the streets.