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.
School #14 – Haile Selassie High School, St. Andrew: The Final Stop of the school tour for 2013
All-Island Tour Powered by Emprezz, UNICEF, National Baking Company, Purewater & Island Grill
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” One of the greatest humans in history uttered those powerful words, and it is after him that the Talk Up Yout School Tour’s final stop, Haile Selassie High School is named. The Talk Up Yout School tour is sponsored by Emprezz, UNICEF, National Baking Company, Purewater and Island Grill and was accompanied by representatives from the OCR, UNICEF, Steppa and DJ Bambino.
What issues do youths attending school and/or living in Payne Land face? What do they know of the general youth issues in Jamaica? Where do they get help when they need it? These are the questions the Talk Up Yout School tour aimed to answer by way of a panel discussion with 5 students, representing grades 7 to 11 of Haile Selassie High School – Neville McIntosh, Dale Campbell, Raheem Angus, Shelby Parke and Deana-Kay Thomas. The students were joined on the panel by their Guidance Counsellor Jacqueline Bryan, their Vice Principal, Steppa and DJ Bambino.
The discussion was also open to students in the audience who wished to comment or to share their experiences and observations. These issues included Crime and Violence, Rape, Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Illiteracy, Unemployment, Lack of Access to Tertiary Education, Bleaching, Premature Sexual Activity, Transactional Sex, Child Prostitution, Bullying, Low Self-Esteem, Peer Pressure, Teenage Pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Diseases, Unprotected Sex, Suicide, Depression, Self-Mutilation, Drug Abuse, Weapons in School, Poor Parenting, Extortion in Schools and Indiscipline.
Many of the students expressed a wish to be better parents than their own parents. The grade 7 representative spoke about his dedication to being a good father, by ensuring that his children would not be allowed to do “certain things” until he dies.
Other students spoke about young girls in their communities who are being “prostituted” by their own mothers, while others turn to transactional sex for money and “pretty clothes”. This discussion encouraged one student to speak up about what she had seen in her community and to issue a strong plea to men in society to leave the little girls alone.
Another issue which sparked much discussion was the issue of bleaching. The general consensus amongst the students of Haile Selassie High was that bleaching is an undesirable activity, which never enhances the beauty of a person, but rather exposes them to various skin diseases and also diminishes their ability to become gainfully employed. Emprezz spoke one-on-one with several students in the audience who were bleaching, asking them why they bleach among other questions. They generally dodged the questions and hid from the camera.
Both DJ Bambino and Steppa had strong messages for the students. DJ Bambino urged them to develop strong identities and a sense of character, so that they will be less susceptible to negative influences from music, musicians and other figures in the entertainment industry.
Steppa spoke about his experiences in Juvenile Correctional Centres, and urged the students to stay positive and on the straight path because he has seen where the “bad man” path leads to and it isn’t a very nice place.
Their Vice Principal and Guidance Counsellors also had similar messages for them, reminding them that they have endless possibilities and they should seek positivity and aim to achieve the highest standard. The students were also spoken to by Child Ambassadors from the OCR, and given Help Stickers from UNICEF.
Endlessly motivating the students, Emprezz empowered them with words from strong black leaders such as Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey. She shared with some unconventional roads to success and urged them to never stop thinking outside of the box and trying to succeed.
Sherry Perrier, an Economic Advisor on the Talk Up Yout School tour, also gave them savings tips and encouraged them to become entrepreneurs through a “Economic Generator” game. The aim of the game was to create a business idea that could, in the space of a year, double the start-up capital of $2000 Jamaican dollars. The winning business idea was a beaded bracelet company, and the student who came up with it was given the $2000.
Finally, after the students on the panel were presented with baskets courtesy of National Baking Company, Haile Selassie High School’s talented Speech Choir and Dancers performed for everyone; a precursor to DJ Bambino’s entertaining performance using his skills on the turn tables.
The Talk Up Yout School Tour 2013, has visited 14 schools, one in each parish of Jamaica, and on this tour we have encountered negative issues, positive students and pro-active school administrators. It will take constant effort on the part of all stakeholders to fix these issues. Therefore, it is time we rallied around our children and gave them the support they need. Follow @TalkUpYout on twitter, Talk Up Yout TV Show on Facebook, visit our blog and Youtube page, and find out how you can help these youths. Be an agent of Social Change, Shatter the Silence and remember to always Talk Up Yout.
Written by Kristeena Monteith
TALK UP YOUT SCHOOL TOUR
Hopewell High School-#2
Date: September 17, 2013
The Second Stop on the Talk Up Yout School Tour
KINGSTON, 19 September 2013: Travelling the South Coast Route from Kingston to Hanover is a feat of no mean order, yet, The Talk Up Yout team led by Emprezz Golding, powered by UNICEF, National Bakery, Purewater, and accompanied by a representative of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network & Steppa made the roughly 4 hour journey to give the students of Hopewell High School their chance to TALK UP! The excitement of the students was so infectious that before long the entire team felt energized and ready to hear the issues faced by the youths in Hanover.
The panel at Hopewell High School included Emprezz, Steppa,Donmarie Latouche (NCYD-Youth Empowerment Officer, Hanover), the guidance counselor of Hopewell High School and 5 five students, representative of each year group. The audience was comprised of almost 200 students and teachers of Hopewell High.
The students of Hopewell High unleashed a deluge of issues such as the Poor Operation of Schools, Poor Transportation Conditions, High School Dropouts, Teenage Pregnancy, Homosexuality, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Teenage Prostitution, Drugs including Marijuana, Lack of Parental Guidance, Moral Degradation, Loss of Community Parenting, Child Abuse, Premature Sexual Activity, Delinquent Fathers and Mothers, Rape, Juvenile Delinquency, Neglect and Abandonment, Suicide, Depression, Cutting and other forms of Self-Mutilation (e.g. Sewing one’s hands), Spousal Abuse, Illiteracy, Over-Exposure to Sexually Charged Material/Images and Indiscipline in Schools.
Much of the day’s discussion was centered on finding the causes and solutions of all of these issues, especially the ones the students identified as particularly prevalent. These included Child Abuse, Neglect and Abandonment and Self-Mutilation. Students were eager to share their personal experiences as well as those they had witnessed. Some students got emotional and had to be counseled by Talk Up Yout counselors separately.
One girl in particular seemed to have been holding so much trauma and pain inside of her that she broke down in tears and could not even express herself with words. Several students in the audience shared horror stories of mothers telling their children that they (the mothers) should have aborted them, telling them now that they ought to “gwaan guh dead”. Students spoke of overhearing parents abusing their children verbally and physically, and most importantly they spoke of how they felt in those situations and the feeling of not knowing who to turn to, not having anyone to confide in.
The Guidance Counselor of Hopewell High Ms. Thomas spoke of some of the issues that she, in her capacity as Guidance Counselor faces such as the reticence of parents to become involved in the life of the school and the lives of their children. Donamarie Latouche: The NCYD’s Youth Empowerment Officer agreed with her and said that parents are more likely to come to school when a student’s phone has been confiscated than for PTA meetings or any consultation at all with teachers.
Throughout the program the panelists, especially Emprezz, often left the stage to talk to the students who were sharing their experiences for the first time. Several students while speaking amongst themselves noted that, never before had anyone ever come to them and asked them how they felt, and what they were dealing with. Emprezz shared many uplifting quotations from people such as Marcus Garvey and Kofi Annan with the students and counseled them, encouraging them to believe in themselves, reminding them of the various agencies that exist solely to protect them from the kinds of situations they are facing.
A representative from the Office of the Children’s Registry gave the students the contact numbers of the various agencies that they can contact for help and UNICEF handed out help stickers to each child with similar information.
Although, the issues at Hopewell High and in Hanover are dire and need immediate response from the various authorities, there are success stories. There are phenomenal students, who, despite facing mammoth problems, have found little solutions to help combat their pain. One student, related to all present, how she uses dub poetry and music to take her to a place where she is safe, to heal herself, and she has since stopped turning to self-mutilation to keep her sanity. Several students gave performances after which Steppa performed to bring the day’s activities to a close.
Next Stop: Cumberland High School in St. Catherine. Students, get ready to Talk Up!
Written by Kristeena Monteith
At 12:05 in the afternoon, on Friday, September 13, 2013 the TALK UP YOUT team led by Emprezz Golding and accompanied by representatives from the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network, UNICEF, the National Centre for Youth Development and powered by National Baking Company and Purewater began the journey to the Tivoli Gardens High School for the first stop on the TALK UP YOUT School Tour. The day’s activities began with a panel discussion
moderated by Emprezz with panellists Steppa, Agent Sasco, a teacher at Tivoli Gardens High
School Mr Felton Robinson and five students who represented forms 1 to 5. The beautiful
students of Tivoli Gardens High School welcomed the chance to talk up and raised several
issues without any prompting. The panel discussion spanned an array of issues such as
Gun Violence, Bleaching, Sexual, Physical and Verbal Abuse and Rape, Emotional Pain, Peer
Pressure, Neglect, Juvenile Delinquency, Bullying, Depression, Sex, Teenage Pregnancy, the
distribution of condoms in schools and the negative influences of the media.
The students on the panel spoke confidently and openly of the issues affecting their
communities and Jamaica at large and were able to identify not only the causes of some of
these issues but also possible solutions. Students in the audience were encouraged to highlight
their issues and to comment on the various topics discussed as the afternoon progressed
and some of the more charismatic students gave examples of some of the issues by pointing
out students who were guilty of bullying or bleaching. Emprezz interacted with the students
throughout the discussion reminding them that they are beautiful, strong, intelligent and
confident students who have a voice that must be heard. This led to one student in particular
relating to all present his experience with bleaching and his subsequent termination of the
practice because as he put it “Mi nuh know why mi do it” and another, speaking up quite
emphatically about her opinion of older men who prey on the naivety and materialism of young
Emprezz asked thought-provoking questions which highlighted not only the issues faced
by youths in Jamaica, but also the mental effects that these issues have on students. She
demonstrated correlations between the history of Jamaica and the ills that affect the present
day society. Steppa, known extensively for his creative poems on the TALK UP YOUT show,
spoke of his experiences with juvenile delinquents and encouraged the students to never give
up because they always have a choice. Agent Sasco’s parting message was a call for students
and youths on a whole to take responsibility for themselves and their actions and to exercise
caution in their everyday lives so that they never place themselves in vulnerable positions. The
teacher on the panel reminded students to always remember that their futures are determined
by every choice they make. The students were also given help stickers with important
information on where to get help or advice after which they were treated to performances by
Steppa and Agent Sasco.
The issues highlighted by the students at Tivoli Gardens High School are important to the
Jamaican Society, as we can never truly ameliorate the conditions affecting the nation’s
children until we know what these problems are, and how the youths are affected by them.
Talk Up Yout recognizes the necessity of engaging the young minds of the country in stimulating
and uplifting dialogue thus the Talk Up Yout school tour will visit one school in each parish over
the course of the next 3 months. Webisodes of these visits will be available on social media.
Students at Hopewell High in Hanover, get ready to TALK UP when the Talk Up Yout School Tour comes to you.
Written by Kristeena Monteith
Talk Up Yout School Tour Journalist.
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