Case Studies

Shashell, Achieve

20th May 2024

The Achieve programme has helped Shashell transform her attitude to school, money, time and, most importantly, herself.

Shashell, 14, is growing up in an inner-city neighbourhood in Jamaica with significant gang activity. She used to believe that she had to be aggressive in order to hold her own in a hostile environment. With no thoughts for her own future, Shashell had little interest in school, and her spending was out of control – she would even beg for cash to buy things she couldn’t immediately afford.

With support from the Achieve programme at her school, Shashell has made major changes in all these areas, and has created a life plan that she is proactively working towards. ‘Planning for the future helps you to know what to do now,’ she explains. ‘I will not be wasting time.’

The steps to success

The Achieve programme, designed by Prince’s Trust International, is a modular skills programme, delivered through Junior Achievement Jamaica (JAJ). Led in schools by specially-trained teachers, the programme offers hands-on learning in small groups, giving students the chance to build key life skills that will boost their chances of succeeding at school and beyond.

Shashell found the personal development module particularly inspiring. It supports young people to identify their individual strengths, interests and weaknesses, and provides a framework for how to set goals and create plans to achieve them. Shashell was quick to put her learning into practice. ‘I do not just take the information, I apply it, for that is when it’s helpful,’ she explains.

‘With the Achieve programme, I know so much about myself, my plan and how I should use my money to maximize it…When you know about yourself, it is like a new world, it is beautiful.’

Whereas previously she spent a lot of time ‘sitting around’ expecting things to happen for her, Shashell is now actively planning her future, and taking steps to put herself on the path to success. Keen to become a cosmetologist providing hair and beauty services, she started practising hair combing and got herself a holiday job to develop her workplace skills.
Shashell now takes a far more responsible approach to managing money too and has opened her first bank account so that she can save her earnings. ‘I am so proud of myself on how I am managing my money,’ she says. ‘I have learnt the importance of budgeting and I am now spending wisely.’

Self-esteem affects decision making

A key part of the Achieve programme involves building young people’s self-esteem, encouraging them to value and believe in themselves. This leads them to make better choices and decisions in every area of their life. ‘Now I am interested in my schoolwork, and that is a form of self-love,’ Shashell explains.

She describes how this change in mindset has affected her dealings with her peers as well. Living in a violent neighbourhood, Shashell used to view the world as ‘evil’, and cultivated an unapproachable and aggressive demeanour in order to protect herself.  She now takes a far more positive approach, and it is paying dividends in terms of her mental health.

‘I have become more calm,’ she says. ‘I just walk away when there are people that mean me no good. I have learnt that loving yourself is managing your time and who you allow to be around you. With this, I am so much happier.’

Now feeling the benefits across several different areas of her life, Shashell highlights how the Achieve programme helps young people to build the skills they actually need to flourish in the real world. ‘In Jamaica there are no programmes in the school throughout the school year to teach life skills, career planning and personal development; just the traditional topics,’ Shashell stresses. ‘Achieve is preparing me for the real life.’

The ripples of change from Shashell’s experience on the programme are spreading further still, as she passes on her learning to others. ‘The most important thing I have achieved while enrolled on this programme is being able to share the information with my friends that do not attend classes, and see how they are changing,’ she explains.

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