Stories of neglected children, abuse, youths with no future, children getting involved in destructive activities, older men preying on young girls, parents forcing their girls to support them through prostitution, these were the stories of the students of St. James High.
On Tuesday the 22nd of October the Talk Up Yout School Tour made the journey to Montego Bay to hear the issues of the youths in St. James from the students of St. James High School. The Talk Up Yout School Tour is powered by Emprezz, UNICEF, National Baking Company, Purewater and Island Grill and this stop on the tour was accompanied by representatives from the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network, National Centre for Youth Development and the Office of the Children’s Registry.
In a brilliant display of pathetic fallacy, the heat of the second city mirrored the heat that the students of St. James High brought to the day’s discussion. They spoke about issues such as Rape, Peer Pressure, Pre-Mature Sexual Activity, Transactional Sex, Child Abuse, Crime and Violence, Juvenile Delinquency, High Cost of Tertiary Education and Poor Parenting.
The issue which sparked the most discussion was Poor Parenting. Emprezz asked the students to give advice to the Jamaican parents and most responses urged parents to build better relationships with their children. The Grade 8 representative on the panel Aldane Thompson had a very different message. His advice to parents was that they desist from “extorting” their children and “guh look wuk.”
The other students on the panel were Santos York, Trish-Ann Longshaw, Yashanique Thompson and Keron Morson (Head Boy). They were joined by their Principal Mr Williams, who spoke of his experiences as Principal of St. James High. His major issue was the lack of father figures in the lives of his students. According to him, he has had to father many of the children at St. James High.
The courage of the students at St. James High was also of note. They discussed many controversial issues and were unafraid to call names and give personal anecdotes after being assured by Emprezz that their identities would of course remain confidential but more importantly, their issues would be dealt with. One student openly identified her father as a “wukliss puppa” and another spoke of being inappropriately propositioned by a tutor who subsequently impregnated another student.
This particular issue sparked immediate action from representative of the OCR Greg Smith. He urged the students to always report issues of that nature to the OCR as they are the Government Organisation set up to deal with cases of Child Abuse of any kind.
However, when Emprezz asked the students if they had ever heard of organizations such as OCR and NCYD, 99% of them had not. Fortunately a representative from UNICEF, Klieon John distributed Help Stickers with information such as the various websites and organizations that students can visit/call for confidential counselling and intervention if necessary.
In light Jamaica’s financial and economic atmosphere, Emprezz decided to provide credible and practical financial information to the students of the school’s visited by the Talk Up Yout School Tour. Thus, the students of St. James High were given financial advice from Talk Up Yout Economic Advisors Aaron Ramsey and Sherry Perrier such as a quick and easy savings tip – Saving $50 per day for 365 days will generate $18,250 in one year.
They were also engaged in stimulating games. They were asked how they could turn $2000 into $4000 in one year and several students gave ideas such as buying hens and selling the eggs, tutoring students in mathematics, investing it in a company, depositing it to a bank account and allowing interest to accrue on it and starting a lawn mowing business. Another activity Emprezz organized was a simulated Government. The students were given various portfolios or ministries to govern and were asked how they would improve Jamaica through those ministries.
They also yielded interesting solutions such as Fighting Praedial Larceny and the mock Prime Minister decided to reduce the size of his cabinet and use the salaries of those minsters he had made redundant to help the poor. The students also put on a talent show to bring the day’s activities to a close.
Next Stop: 25th October 2013, Munro College, St. Elizabeth
All-Island Tour Powered by Emprezz, UNICEF, National Baking Company, Purewater & Island Grill
Written by Kristeena Monteith for Talk Up Yout
Talk Up Yout