School Stop #10 – Belmont Academy
All-Island Tour Powered by Emprezz, UNICEF, National Baking Company, Purewater & Island Grill
Jamaica has many hidden treasures; beautiful tourist attractions nestled into lush, verdant forests off the beaten track. It is a sentiment which must be applied to our people. The Talk Up Yout School Tour journeyed to Bluefields, Westmoreland to talk to the students of one of Jamaica’s hidden treasures: Belmont Academy.
Founded in 2009, this school boasts an impressive campus, and according to their principal Mr Rayon Simpson, the best teachers and best students in Jamaica. The Talk Up Yout School Tour which is powered by Emprezz Golding, UNICEF, National Baking Company, Purewater and Island Grill has visited 9 schools in Jamaica so far, with the aim of facilitating discussion about issues which affect the youths in Jamaica, with the youths in Jamaica. A representative from the OCR, the Youth Ambassadors from this region and Recording Artist Nesbeth were also present on Wednesday’s trip to Belmont Academy.
The students of Belmont Academy had many issues to talk up about. They spoke of Crime and Violence, Scamming, Child Abuse and Child Prostitution, Rape, Poor Rural Transportation, Homosexuality, Bleaching, Lack of Support Services for Children, Poor Parenting, Drug Abuse, Street Children, Teenage Pregnancy and Corruption in the Justice System. The School was represented by students Demar Brown, De’Angelies Forrester, Rajay Dockery, Shantoy Martin, Bosworth Ewen and Sydia Fraser on the panel.
According to 4th form Shantoy Martin student Westmoreland has an extremely high rate of Teenage Pregnancy. Her fellow students supported her by saying that this phenomenon has caused issues such as Street Children and Child Abuse to proliferate in the absence of proper parenting. Almost every student raised their hand when Emprezz asked them if they knew a student or teenager who had been impregnated.
Another issue which the students thought was pertinent was the poor transportation systems in rural Jamaica. Another 4th Form student Bosworth Ewen remarked that the combined effect of poorly maintained road systems and taxi operators who refuse to transport children contributes to the poor attendance of students. According to him, taxi operators receive more money from fares if they transport adults so they refuse to transport children.
Many students expressed dissatisfaction with the Government especially as it regards their policies towards children however Mr Simpson pointed out that the Member of Parliament for Eastern Westmoreland, the Honourable Luther Buchanan allocates a significant amount of funds towards paying school fees for needy children. Mr Simpson chided parents who do not need this help but seek it because it is available as, in his opinion, Mr Buchanan could have used some of that money to fix the roads.
Despite the presence of representatives form UNICEF and the OCR many of the students admitted to being unaware of the existence of such bodies. Emprezz urged them to use social media websites more effectively to educate and empower themselves. She also related to them her journey to success which was paved with doing many menial jobs, and working her way to where she is now. She got particularly animated after only two students raised their hands when asked if they were willing to do janitorial work in order to pay for college.
Nesbeth, encouraged the students to work hard and told them to model their lives around the 4 D’s of Success- Dedication, Determination, Discipline and Desire. He also performed several of his most popular songs for the students.
Talk Up Yout Economic Advisers Sherry Perrier and Aaron Ramsey gave the students savings tips, and general financial advice. Both Sherry and Aaron are final year students at the University of the West Indies, their tuition being paid by scholarships. They encouraged the students to apply to every scholarship they can find, never lose hope, go beyond the call of duty, always challenge themselves, because only then, will they improve.
The students were given help stickers with information on where to find help, if they ever need it and the panellists were given baskets courtesy of National Baking Company and Purewater.
Nest Stop on the Talk Up Yout School Tour: Westwood High School, Trelawny.
Written by: Kristeena Monteith
Talk Up Yout
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