Young leaders express care for communities
Regardless of background, interests, hobbies and passions, youth from across Jamaica take pride in assisting their local communities. This final instalment of The Sunday Gleaner’s Rethink Youth series focuses on the initiatives youth leaders have been undertaking to support residents in their own communities.
St Elizabeth North Western
Janice Howell is a youth leader with a passion for helping children. On September 19, she hosted a back-to-school drive as her constituency project in the Cuffies Pen community in Lacovia, St Elizabeth. Throughout the duration of the project, school supplies were donated to over 60 students who were expected to start school in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weeks later, Janice visited her constituency once again to donate a tablet to a student unable to attend online classes due to the lack of resources.
EMMANUEL ORANE, ANDREW FOLKES, YANIQUE TRACEY, DANNIEL REID, DAVID SALMON AND BARRINGTON WALSH
St Andrew Eastern, North Eastern and South Eastern
In the summer, the communities of August Town and Nannyville benefited from the commendable work youth leaders Emmanuel Orane, Andrew Folkes, Yanique Tracey, Danniel Reid, David Salmon and Barrington Walsh did to further the cause of education. On August 31, they planted several trees and painted the washroom of the August Town Primary School.
This was also accompanied by painting two classrooms at the Nannyville Basic School on September 5 and 12. The principal expressed appreciation for their efforts, as this was the first time the institution had been painted in 25 years.
Manchester North Eastern
For several educators, the online teaching experience has been a challenge. Many have to navigate difficult circumstances, such as simultaneously teaching classes while caring for their families. After hearing the about challenges facing his fellow teachers, educator Tevin Cameron decided to host a virtual workshop geared towards helping teachers who felt overwhelmed.
This idea blossomed into the Teachers Lives Matter Motivational Talk, which saw 35 attendees learning ways to manage stress from consulting psychologist, Shellian Rowe-Morgan. Emphasis was placed on teaching strategies that could be used to maintain a healthy mental state in this new COVID-19 normal.
St Mary Central
Driven by a passion for helping the vulnerable, Danielle Waugh was eager to distribute care packages in her Islington community. On October 29, Danielle, along with her friend, Anita Ricketts, distributed over 50 care packages in the community. She particularly focused her attention on providing for the elderly, the disabled and the shut-in. She aims to continue these efforts to support marginalised groups, as seeing people smile is its own reward.
The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop Leon Malcolm from executing the first Western Westmoreland Health and Wellness Fair at the Bridgez Jerk Centre in August. This was truly a defining moment for the community, as over 100 residents benefited from access to medical services, including diabetes and hypertension checks. He also distributed back-to-school supplies, while residents were also able to donate blood.
Leon explained that he organised this project in order to assist those who were not able to travel to Savanna-la-Mar. He told The Sunday Gleaner, “I received support from several amazing sponsors, including Cornerstone Jamaica, and Tents, Events and Party Rentals. This was a great opportunity for the elderly and young children to have access to these services at their doorstep. I aim to do this at least once per year in order to assist people in getting the care and assistance they need.”
St Catherine Southern
Youth leader Benyamin Cooke is driven by a burning desire to build communities. This philosophy underpins his altruistic endeavours. Throughout the summer, he, along with Kayla Stoney, distributed over 300 care packages to communities in Greater Portmore. He also engaged members of the community in order to restore the local park. They cleaned the area, removed debris, cut grass and overall improved the community space.
However, the project he is most proud of is establishing a local garden farm. Benyamin passionately believes in raising awareness about the importance of agriculture among youth. In his garden, he grows pineapple, hot and sweet pepper, garlic, peanut, yam, among other produce.
He explained, “I did this as a direct response to the COVID-19 crisis. I want to help promote agriculture among youth and teach them the concept of food security, as we pursue self-sufficiency when we grow what we eat.”