Greater Portmore High teen wins contest for boys

Greater Portmore High teen wins contest for boys

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

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SEVENTEEN-year-old Rajae Hinds of Greater Portmore High School took the top prize in the inaugural Boys Can Mentoring Programme last week with an original song titled Coping with COVID-19 .

Two other students from Greater Portmore High School — 14-year-old fourth-former Newton Jackson, and 16-year-old Ricquan Chambers — placed second and third in the competition; Jackson for a short story called The Twin and Chambers with a song titled Quarantine.

The three topped a field of six and were awarded at a hybrid virtual/face-to-face awards ceremony at the GraceKennedy/Parade Gardens STEM Centre in downtown Kingston on August 25. They received certificates, book vouchers, and food baskets courtesy of the British Council and Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation.

“With the motivation of my mother and my guidance councillor Mr Hibbert, I came out victorious in the competition,” Hinds told the Jamaica Observer.

Under the theme 'Resilient!', the Boys Can summer competition was designed to encourage resilience to the novel coronavirus pandemic by showcasing the boys' creativity on the subject.

The Boys Can Mentoring Programme, launched in May 2019 as a partnership between British Council and Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, targets Jamaican boys ranging in ages from 12 to 16 years. The programme uses strategies aimed at improving learning, motivation and engagement in schooling, to improve levels of academic achievement, raise personal expectations and ambitions.

The programme currently hosts 46 boys from seven high schools — Spot Valley, Foga Road, Denbigh, Spanish Town, Tivoli, Maldon, and Greater Portmore — who receive guidance from 20 mentors across multiple career disciplines. Since its launch, participants, mentors, guidance counsellors, and parents have engaged in activities focused on career development, parent empowerment, as well as solutions-focused sessions for developing skills, such as emotional intelligence, conflict management, communication, resilience and problem-solving skills.

“The mentorship programme has really been very rewarding for everyone involved, because we have seen the positive impact it has had on the boys and the mentors,” Grace and Staff General Manager Tanketa Chance-Wilson told the Observer. “One of the major objectives is to effect positive behaviour change, so that the boys can remain in schools and grow to be productive citizens, and we are already seeing such significant changes.”

Grace and Staff field officer Marjaalaine Francis expressed thanks to the schools, parents, mentors, and mentees. She noted that the mentors encouraged and inspired the young men to become positive role models and good citizens of the country.

Meanwhile, guidance councillors Orville Hibbert from Greater Portmore High School and Hortence Wellington from Spanish Town High School said the boys were exhibiting much growth and development.

British Council Education Project Manager Lauren Fiszzon said: “The students really impressed us in the resilience and resourcefulness that they demonstrated. They showed honesty in talking about experiences and challenges, such as the closure of schools, problems faced with studies, Internet access and their constructive attitudes in dealing with challenges.

“Some of the boys needed more encouragement, but with regular WhatsApp messaging and support of guidance councillors and encouragement from parents, it has really been a team effort. The boys built up their courage and took part,” she added.

The other boys who entered the competition were Kimoy Jackson and Akil Tucker, both of whom are also from Greater Portmore High School, and Tajay Tapper of Spanish Town High School.


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