Talk Up Yout School Tour- October 15, 2015.
Facilitated By Talk Up Yout & Emprezz Golding
Charlie Smith High School, Kingston 10
The Talk Up Yout all island school tour powered by Stanley and Empress Productions, National Baking Company and Cran Wata, took the road again, this time stopping at the Charlie Smith High School in Kingston 10. The school stands in the heart of a tough inner city community faced with poverty and violence. Although faced with many issues including the need for an Auditorium and shelter for the school canteen, the students that walk through the gates of Charlie Smith High each morning are governed by their school’s motto “Effort the key to success’. The Talk Up Yout team rolled into the school early and could tell from the energy that the students were ready for the opportunity to have their voices heard.
The Panel Discussion
Representing their school mates in the panel discussion were: eight grader Jannoya Grant, tenth grade student Romeo Gutthre and eleventh grade students Calvin Evans and Alaine Bryan. The discussion was moderated by Emprezz Golding who had the students voicing their opinions and concerns and giving their solutions on topics ranging from depression and suicide amongst the youths, violence, politics, music and entertainment.
Alaine Bryan felt that the main problems facing the nations youths are the high level of violence and crime against them. These crimes she said include the murder and the rape of many children. She stated that the government needs to do more to urgently address this issue. Romeo Gutthre felt that the problem the youths are facing is indiscipline amongst them. Using their school as an example Romeo and then Alaine both explained how the fighting amongst their peers is often distracting. Alaine wasn’t afraid to Talk Up about the number of fights she has witnessed because young ladies are fighting about boyfriends and male students because of gambling. She feels that parents need to search their children’s bags for weapons before they leave the house each morning. The students and teachers all agreed when she mentioned the need for a metal detector and sometimes JDF presence at the school. The question of how they would solve some of the school’s issues was raised. Abigale Willis gave one of the best statements of the day saying that students needed to turn all the negatives into a positive and put the energy they place in fighting and gambling in their school work.
The youngest member of the panel Jannoya, felt that politics is Jamaica’s biggest problem. She believes that politics in Jamaica only brings violence and not much else. Emprezz gave her views on what she believes governance should be about in any country and then asked the students if they felt that the government are the ones that are supposed to feed the people. She got a resounding yes. Abigale Willis sought to clarify her school mates’ response saying that the government didn’t have to directly feed them but needed to decrease the taxes on the food items mainly bought by poor people; items such a chicken back, tin mackerel and tin corned beef. She felt that by doing this the poor people especially those in the inner city would be able to afford to feed themselves. Her statement was met with loud applause and ‘Talk up yout” chants from her peers who were in full agreement.
Eleventh grader Aaron McCooty spoke about how he needed the Government to create more jobs for students about to leave high school and lower current school fees and transportation fees as sometimes his parents can hardly find the money needed to send him to school each day. On that note Emprezz then asked the students what they would like to say to the minister of education. Most of the students expressed that they would like to talk to him about their concerns in regards to the merger of their school with another high School in close proximity. They are of the opinion that the Ministry of Education did not really have their best interest at heart when they made the decision.
When asked if they knew how to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts and whether or not they spoke to their school’s guidance counsellor many of the answers were split. The male students said that would rather deal with their issues themselves. One male student Shamari Nicholson said that he deals with his personal problems by going to sleep. He said that he was feeling the stress of finding a job even though he wants to focus mainly on his studies. He believes though that the males in his school should speak to the guidance counsellor. Abigale Willis said that of the two guidance counsellors at the school she would feel more comfortable talking to the female as she feels she would be more able to understand what she is going through as a woman.
Music and Entertainment
Calvin Evans stated that has he is a Christian thus he listens to positive music mainly gospel. Other members of the panel spoke on how raw some of the music being recorded by dancehall artiste such as Vybz Kartel and Alkaline are, and how sometimes music is a distraction as on the school compound during free periods most students instead of reading or studying prefer to listen to music and much of what they are listening to are the sexually explicit songs by some dancehall artiste. Cran Wata ambassador Tony ‘Bella’ Blair stopped by to encourage the youths to dream big and believe in themselves. She spoke on how having parents who supported her goals and having an education was very important and helped her in reaching her full potential.
The day ended on a very high note with students winning great prizes from lead sponsor National Baking Company and new sponsor Cran Wata. Shamara Ellis an 8th grade student won the Beauty of the day prize. Emprezz being the Philanthropist that she gave five thousand dollars to a student to invest in his dream to build a chicken coop and another student a promising footballer received cash towards buying a new pair of football boots from Talk Up Yout. The Talk Up Yout concert featured a military style performance lead by Renaldo Mc Donald and Shamir Nicholson who had all the students participating in their song. Theona gave a powerful rendition of Etana’s hit single Roots. Emprezz said that what made it all worthwhile was having Oshawne Stenett express to her that by coming to his school she has made a difference in his life and has given him and extra boost of confidence.
Written by: Yasheka Reid- for Talk Up Yout.
Talk Up Yout School Tour – September 29, 2015
Yallahs High School
Yallahs, St. Thomas, Kingston, Jamaica
Powered by Talk UP Yout, National Baking Company and CranWata.
A Stanley & Empress Production
Designed & Moderated By Emprezz Golding
Kingston, 30 September 2015 – The Talk Up Yout School Tour is back! The team visited Yallahs High School in St. Thomas this week to engage the students of that school in an open discussion, allowing them to talk up about their issues and find their own solutions to these issues.
Sitting on the panel with Emprezz were Nickoy Graham of Grade 7, Jahiem Dwyer of Grade 8, Zadie-Ann Sinclair of Grade 9, Dacia Ward of Grade 10 and Jovaun Walker of Grade 11.
The students opened up to Emprezz, who led the discussion, immediately and spoke candidly about issues such as Suicide, Child Abuse, Neglect, Low Self-Esteem, Teenage Pregnancy, Abstinence, Child Sexual Grooming, Transactional Sex, Peer Pressure, Good Governance, Education and Poverty.
One of the most significant moments of the day came when student Tia Henry, who was sitting in the audience became emotionally distressed while talking about a friend of hers who committed suicide less than a week ago. “It really hurts.” She said, while Emprezz embraced her and asked the students to stand if they felt suicidal, which resulted in at least 20 students rising from their seats. They were each given an opportunity to talk about why they felt suicidal and reasons given ranged from feelings of loneliness to feeling as if the negative economic situation of their parents was their fault. As heart-breaking as it was to witness, the path to healing was firmly laid by Emprezz and Guidance Counsellor Mr. Howell, as the students were encouraged to support each other and most importantly, to talk up and seek help when they feel suicidal.
Many of the issues raised were related to Sex and Sexual Abuse. Grade 7 student, Nickoy Graham who represented his year group on the panel first raised the issue of Sexual Abuse and made sure to stress that it happens to both boys and girls. He was supported by his peers with chants of “Talk Up Yout!” and anecdotal evidence coming from students in the audience who had many stories to tell. Some related incidences of adult women luring students into inappropriate sexual contact in exchange for their “Lunch Money”, teachers at other schools sending nude pictures to their students and even parents having sex with their children.
On the other hand, Grade 11 student Jovaun Walker spoke about finding abstinence exceedingly difficult. According to him “Yallahs High School is full of beautiful women.” These beautiful women apparently distract him from his academic studies. He was also supported by his peers who called for more conversations about Sex, Sexuality and Puberty to happen in schools, but on a one and one basis where they would feel more comfortable speaking openly about their personal issues.
For every issue raised, the students were guided in finding solutions by Emprezz. One student recommended that other students who received nude pictures from teachers, ought to screenshot these images as evidence when they report it to authorities such as their Principal which Emprezz supported by reminding students of the 1-888-PROTECT number to call when they need help. Other students stressed the importance of talking up, which spurred on a conversation about Jamaica’s “Informa fi dead” culture. Emprezz reminded the students that not only was informing necessary, it could protect them from predators who thrive on their silence.
Always seeking to empower and educate Emprezz spoke to the students about understanding their innate greatness, finding role models and using their paths to success as stepping stones to overcome challenges. She also reminded them that education can happen anywhere, not only at school and charged them to use the internet for productive purposes such as finding inspirational quotes, studying the philosophies of Marcus Garvey and educating themselves.
On the lighter side, all the students on the panel were given stationery and gift baskets from Talk Up Yout’s major partner National Bakery, and all students present were given tasty treats and National Bakery snacks. They also had opportunities to compete for giveaways such as gift bags and watches and monetary prizes.
Students were also treated to an inspirational address from popular YouTube vlogger, comedic actress, singer/songwriter Bella Blair, who is a brand ambassador for CranWata. She used her life story to show the students that hard work, perseverance, ingenuity and innovation can override any stumbling block in their paths, and led two students in a DJ competition designed to help them to overcome their shyness.
It was a day that could only be described as inspirational to all involved. Many issues were discussed, solutions were found and friendships were formed. Some of the final words of the students on the panel included “Do the best you can,” “Use mistakes as stepping stools,” “Choose your friends wisely” and “Don’t let anyone put you down because of the school you attend. Nuh school nuh betta dan none.” Grade 9 representative Zadie-Ann Sinclair had a message to Child Molesters. “All the men out there thinking about taking away a child’s future, think again.”
Written by: Kristeena Monteith for Talk Up Yout
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