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
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