Majesty Gardens youth reaps success despite odds

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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THEODORE Fowler last week beat the odds to be named the highest achiever in the Majesty Gardens Community Development Education Programme, having lost his home to fire earlier this year.

The 18-year-old said the award was a major accomplishment for him, one which he is eternally grateful for.

"I suspected it, but I faltered a little in the end because of the fire, I was out of school for a little while. It was a rough experience, but I give thanks that I am alive and here today. So even though I lost everything, being the committed person I am, once I start something, I have to finish and I did," he told JIS News in an interview.

He expressed gratitude to his friends and family for the emotional, financial and physical support he received during what he termed a "challenging time" in his life.

Fowler, who aspires to tread the path of an entrepreneur in the field of real estate, was a beacon to his fellow students and class facilitators during his hardships.

His colleague and graduate of the programme, Nadine Brown, said she was surprised how Theodore quickly "bounced back" from his challenging situation.

"He was very nonchalant, I know it affected him but he did not allow it to show. He did not allow it to stop him from accomplishing what he wanted, and I admire that about him," she told JIS News.

Fowler clearly grasped one of the golden rules of education -- learning by teaching others.

"He was very helpful and persons could always go to him for help, especially with mathematics and he would take the time to explain and he was not boastful about it," Brown said.

The programme which Fowler topped is a tripartite initiative between the Citizen Security and Justice Programme, Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica, aimed at building the academic competencies of learners in the community in literacy and numeracy.

Ms Brown hailed the work of the partners who made the programme available to her community.

"CSJP is doing a brilliant job, and I hope they continue to build our community and others that need it. I think it was a great idea to go into the community to offer this programme, because there are several persons in the community who did not think they could do or be anything more than the stereotypical ghetto man or woman. I think this is an opportunity for anyone who wants to elevate themselves from that," she expresses.

Special Projects Coordinator at JFLL, Karen Ffrench, said that from day one Fowler displayed exemplary performance in all key areas.

"He was promoted from the intermediate group to the proficiency level where he did mathematics and English at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level. With his performance throughout and his attitude towards the programme, Theodore was voted by his teammates and facilitators as the 'Most Outstanding student'," she said.

Ffrench says that the JFFL commended the performance of all its learners, as all have transitioned in some way.

"We are appealing to persons or organisations to identify a community they believe need this type of intervention and engage us because we are here to assist. We have proven it with the Majesty Garden learners and we are ready to take on others. We go by our motto, 'Changing Lives Forever," she said.

Seventy-seven residents of Majesty Gardens successfully completed the 24-month community-based initiative which targeted adult learners and unattached youths. The learners were systematically assessed according to their learning aptitude for placement at specific levels of competencies.

Of the 77 individuals, 33 graduated from the High School Diploma Equivalency basic (grades 1-6) level, 20 at the intermediate (grades 7-9) level and 24 from the proficiency (grades 10-11) level.

Twenty-four of the learners are currently awaiting the results of their CSEC examinations taken in May and June this year.

The graduation ceremony was held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew last Wednesday.

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