Keenan Falconer is CVSS' Young Leader Awardee

Sunday, October 07, 2018

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Twenty-four-year-old Keenan Joseph Falconer has always been a big believer in education as the way to make a difference in the lives of others. His feelings on the matter intensified when coaching his alma mater, Ardenne High School, to victory in the School's Challenge Quiz (SCQ) competition in 2015.

Consequently, through the Inner-City Development Youth Association (IDYA), he made the decision to give back to people in troubled communities by helping to establish“Inner-City Quiz” (IQ) — an academic quiz competition designed for children aged seven to 12.

The initiative promotes unity and peace-building, while providing an opportunity for children to showcase their educational talents. It also allows for the honing of interpersonal communication skills; the broadening of their knowledge; the building of awareness of the world outside of their community; and the fostering of healthy rivalry among participants.

Since its inception on June 6, 2016, over 100 children from eight inner-city communities have participated, each of them earning medals and certificates, the most outstanding from each team being awarded partial scholarships and book grants for high school.

The impact of IQ is evident. The senior participants have shown excellent academic improvement, with over half the students matriculating to traditional, well-sought-after secondary institutions in the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew. All four members of the 2017 winning team from Trench Town passed the Grade Six Achievement Test and were placed at St Georges College; the captain of the Denham Town team now attends Merl Grove High School, while the captain of the team from Tivoli Gardens now attends St Hugh's High School.

The conceptualisation and succcess of the project to date has won Falconer the Council of Voluntary Social Services' (CVSS) “Young Leader Award” which he received at the CVSS biennial awards banquet at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel this past Thursday.

“I was pleasantly surprised when I received the award. I know several former recipients such as Aubrey Stewart and Neville Charlton and to be among such esteemed company is really an honour. I never thought that I could match up to persons like them, as they have been able to accomplish so much,”said Falconer of the recognition.

“The fact that I have an opportunity to influence somebody's life in a way that I could not imagine is fulfilling,” the young man said of what he enjoyed most about volunteering. “Many persons just want you to be there for them, and no small act of kindness is ever wasted.”

A researcher and economist, Falconer hopes to continue his voluntary work with the intention to do so at a higher level by partnering with multilaterals such as the United Nations, where he can advance his focus on development.

“I'm big on development, specifically as a development economist. I would be able to help fight poverty and promote equality and at the same time, try to raise the standard of living for persons through effective policymaking. This will give me the ability to capture and reach a large segment of persons,” he explained.

The only child for Debbie and Mervyn Falconer, Keenan encourages people to volunteer and give back in some way.

“Give a helping hand when you can, because you never know when something may happen and you will need help and nobody is there. So one small act of kindness can go a far way,” he stated.

Saffrey Brown, chair of the CVSS said the selection for CVSS Young Leader Awardee was competitive, adding that Falconer emerged from numerous nominations submitted.

“His work and contribution in the development of training and education is exemplary and we at the CVSS are proud to have presented him this award,” she said.

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