Talk Up Yout School Tour- September 28, 2016
St. Mary High School
Facilitated By Talk Up Yout & Emprezz Golding
Investors in Youth: National Baking Company, Cran-Wata & Stanley & Empress
The 2016 Talk Up Yout all island school tour started off with high energy at St. Mary High School. Decked in their Green and White uniforms, the young men and women of St. Mary High entered their school’s auditorium raging with excitement to let their voices be heard. The proceedings began with a round of big ups to their teachers, counselor and principal lead by Emprezz. The panel included students from different grades and of different genders; Ayahna Thomas Grade 7, Bradwell McLeod Grade 9, Abigale Bradley Grade 13 (Head Girl), Romane James Grade 11 and Drew Davis Grade 10. As their motto states with “Faith and Courage” the students spoke about the issues affecting them in their school and community and they sent personal messages to the person responsible for assisting with those issues.
Issues from the Panelists
Ayahna Thomas believes that “Peer Pressure” is one of the leading problems affecting our youth today and said that some of the brilliant students change who they are and lower themselves to fit in the popular groups. Students from the audience got involved and gave some interesting points on that matter saying children who are prevented by their parents to do certain things often hide and “smoke and go to parties”. The issue of peer pressure was enforced by another panelist Drew Davis. Drew started off by asking a very important question “Why do the brilliant people lower themselves to fit in the popular crowd?” and her answer was blunt and straightforward “Fear of acceptance and the need to belong” Some points leading from that issue were that the youth gravitate to negativity because it takes a lot more effort to do good and people on a whole like to do what is easier so the bad usually stands out more than the good.
Bradwell McLeod said “another major issue we face (not just youth) is financial crisis and his reason for this is that we don’t spend money wisely. Most parents rather spend their money on material things rather than investing in their children.” Abigail Bradley believes that youth face major problems with Education. She believes that morals and values have declined because the educated persons who don’t have the money to further their education are not motivated to do so, especially when they see the less educated with money and links able to move forward, this causes a feeling of hopelessness. She also believes that the government should take more interest in investing in the education and talents of the youth despite their personal financial background. One student from the audience highlighted that with better educational options and more opportunities to explore our talents, the country would have less unemployment issues and our economic problems would decrease. A Grade 7 student (male) sent a personal message to Mr. Ruel Reid stating the importance of free education on all levels. The next issue brought up by panelist Romane James was “Bullying”. He clearly stated that this may be verbal or physical. One student explained that he is a bully today because he was bullied in the past and he does this to protect himself from other bullies. Ashley Burnard of Grade 12 expressed that the best way to deal with bullies is to find someone to confide in and seek their help not to retaliate.
Some other issues brought up by Emprezz and the students in the audience were;
The St. Mary High School Band entertained us with two beautiful items highlighting their competence with their voices and on different instruments. Birthday girl Candice Clarke was the winner of the Cran Wata song competition. She was elated and stated that it was her best birthday after receiving her gift of $5000 and a Cran Wata gift bag. Despite all the fun and excitement, the panelists ended the program by putting together a list outlining what they think some of the rights of youth should be.
The youth should have a right to:
Written by: Deondra Riley 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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