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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