by Donella Hosten
The fatal stabbing which took place at the Happy Hill Secondary School (HHSS) caught the attention of a number of Non-Governmental Organisations, including a new group called the Olive Branch Project Inc.
The Olive Branch Project (OBP) was founded and directed by Master Melvaughn Coutain, a Grenadian Taekwondo and Martial Arts expert. According to Master Coutain, this organisation came to fruition as a result of the number of problems occurring within the schools and society on a whole.
Presently, the OBP works with 9 different schools with an effort to use Taekwondo and Martial Arts as a means of instilling some level of discipline in students.
In an exclusive interview with Master Coutain, he noted that the OBP was designed to “spot the talent” in students. For instance, a child who may not be good at academics, may be good with his/her hands, or may be a good speaker. He said this is something we need to do, “otherwise we will have problems in years to come” with the future generation.
Furthermore, Coutain added that because discrimination is something that is faced daily, and persons have moved away from the mentality that the “village looks after the children,” Olive Branch can assist with getting children on the right path.
Master Coutain shared his experience he had with some students from a private school after just about 3 weeks of classes. He said he was able to see a great turn around in their discipline, and he no longer needed to tell them what to do before classes.
Additionally, the OBP Founder noted that his organisation could help with the bullying problem within the school system, whether it’s verbal or physical.
To date, the OBP has undertaken a number of sessions including workshops on bullying, and a Taekwondo Expo held last year. Soon they will be completing a European based Programmed dubbed Young Tigers, after which they will set up a local Programme here called “Train the Trainer.”
In speaking about the incident at the HHSS, Master Coutain said he was sure this could have been avoided had the deceased learned “how to run.” He said there is a need to go into the schools to speak to the children about bullying and anger management, demonstrating the dangers and informing them about the consequences.
He went on to say that the incident will change the lives of those who were present in one way or another, and he believes with the help of the Ministry of Education, Counselors and other organisations, the OBP can help to curb this issue.