Akeem eyes inner-city drama programme to cure social ills

Akeem eyes inner-city drama programme to cure social ills

Thursday, August 22, 2019

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More than 220 Jamaicans have been awarded Chevening Scholarships since it was first introduced in 1983. Chevening is the United Kingdom Government's global scholarship programme that offers future leaders the opportunity to study in the UK. This year, 19 outstanding young Jamaicans were selected for the scholarships. Over this week the Jamaica Observer will share the stories of some of the 2019-2020 awardees.

AKEEM Mignott is convinced that younger minds are easier to influence and young people will tend to actively express themselves, if given the right medium to do so.

It is for this reason that the 26-year-old, a drama teacher for the past five years, is relishing the prospect of establishing an inner-city community drama programme at youth centres across the island when he completes his Master of Arts in Applied Theatre at Goldsmiths University of London, as one of the 2019-2020 Chevening Scholarship awardees.

According to Mignott, the inner-city programme will use dramatic strategies and conventions to explore social behaviours and issues faced by children in these depressed communities, as well as those in State care.

Mignott said the participants will range from eight to 25 years old, and must be a member of a youth centre or a ward of the State.

“Workshops, training and mentorship sessions are avenues that will be used to give 'voice to the voiceless'. A theatre programme such as this will tackle issues that plague these communities, including violence, political warfare, lack of job opportunities, and poverty.

“Young people will be at the forefront of community projects as advocates, promoting awareness and prevention of societal issues that negatively impact our nation,” said the 2019/2020 Chevening scholar.

A graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Mignott has experience with community theatre, having worked in productions with the Portmore Youth Information Centre in its Christmas play and the Three C's Community Centre in Mandela Terrace.

He also taught drama at Scott's Pass Primary and Infant summer camp to children aged six to 15, as part of a project of the 2014 Clarendon Festival Queen.

“Pursuing an MA in Applied Theatre will provide me with relevant training to confidently initiate and execute such a programme, thus achieving a change in the attitude and behaviour in communities and, by extension, the wider society,” argued Mignott.

He said he intends to get the police on board as he seeks access to the youths in inner-city communities.

“The police have a strong presence in several inner-city communities through the Police Officers Youth Club programmes,” he said.

The next step is to seek support from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) fund, which provides financing for projects such as the one he wants to implement.

The CHASE funding will be used to provide stipends for participants, facilitators and other aspects of the project.

“I will work toward building solid partnerships with organisations such as the National Integrity Action, Police Officers Club, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, and even the British Council, as their goals are aligned with my plan of working towards eradicating the country's culture of marginalisation, social injustice, corruption, and organised crime.

“My mantra is to use advocacy theatre to explore social, economic and emotional issues and promote national well-being, and to provide a platform that enables social change. This great opportunity (the Chevening Scholarship) represents the perfect springboard to achieve all of this,” said Mignott.

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