The promise of youth, the challenge of ageing

The promise of youth, the challenge of ageing

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, November 11, 2019

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The beautiful array of high school students at Jamaica Conference Centre last Thursday brought back memories of those box pleats that had to be lined up on our ironing board. The Jamaican school uniform is the great equaliser, and I am glad this tradition continues.

We were at the launch of the second Annual Student Empowerment Programme organised by Kingston & St Andrew Development Foundation (KSADF) in association with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI).

During the month of November leaders in all sectors engage with upper high school students, most of whom are contemplating career choices. Those of us who participated last year left with renewed hope for the future of Jamaica.

One of last year's school motivators was Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who engaged with students at Penwood High School. He had planned to spend an hour at the school, but became so transfixed by the observations of the students that he spent double the time. Our students are engaging, talented, and ambitious.

KSADF is the brainchild of Kingston Custos Steadman Fuller, whose company, Kingston Bookshop, has sponsored the organisation for the past three years. His co-chair is St Andrew Custos Dr Patricia Dunwell, whose philanthropic activities have changed the lives of many, particularly those in the Grant's Pen community. Here are high-achieving Jamaicans who could comfortably relax on their laurels, but instead they have used their resources to serve their fellow Jamaicans.

MOEYI state minister Alando Terrelonge lit up the room with his call to the students to “Remember and appreciate your value.” He reminded them, “Education is the best gift you can give to yourselves – an educated mind is an emancipated mind.” Further, he advised the students to “join clubs in your schools and organisations in your communities”. He said climate change was important to his Government because “We must protect Jamaica for you.”

Custos Fuller also tackled the issue of climate change in his keynote address, noting that rising sea levels, as well as more intense storms and droughts, will have an impact on education, the places we locate schools, and the type of structures to house them. Much to my delight, he also emphasised the importance of creativity in this digital age, noting that none of our magnificent inventions could have materialised without that creative spark.

We enjoyed the positivity of Mayor Senator Delroy Williams, who described his beloved City of Kingston as the “Pearl of the Caribbean”. Young Joshua Clarke, assistant vice-president of the National Secondary Schools' Students' Council, advised his peers to use an hour of the day as follows: “Twenty minutes of devotion, 20 minutes' workout, and 20 minutes reading.” Good advice for all ages!

It's an honour to serve this foundation, with fellow directors Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown, former Kingston Restoration and Natonal Housing Trust (NHT) CEO Morin Seymour, Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation CEO Robert Hill and Executive Director George Watson.

Lakes Pen Basic 15 years on

It was 15 years ago that Digicel Jamaica Foundation was launched with the rebuilding and landscaping of the Lakes Pen Basic School in Spanish Town. Major General Robert Neish, then CEO of the foundation and then Chairman Harry Smith collaborated with Jamaica Social Investment Fund team to have everything up and running in six weeks. I remember the precious little faces lighting up when patron Denis O'Brien presented them with school bags filled with supplies.

Principal Keisha Malvo-Brooks and her staff have kept the school in great shape and were further awarded a Legacy Grant to equip the school's kitchen and for general repairs. Lakes Pen Basic has an active parent-teachers' association and hosts the local football club, who are protective of the little ones.

Since that day in November 2004, Digicel Foundation has funded projects throughout Jamaica to the tune of US$36 million (over $5 billion). The team travels islandwide to ensure that they identify the most worthwhile projects, building special needs schools, expanding science labs, building ramps in schools, assisting farming communities, and funding microenterprises and environmental projects which have resulted in significant job creation.

HEART Trust/NTA joins with Prince's Trust

Seventy-nine young jobseekers were hosted at a 'Get Hired' event co-sponsored by HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) and the London-based Prince's Trust International at the British High Commission last Thursday. Managing director of HEART Trust/NTA Dr Janet Dyer described 'Get Hired' as a revolutionary recruitment event. She said the partnership would help to encourage the soft skills that young Jamaicans need to succeed in the working world.

Project manager at Prince's Trust International Michael De Roeck stressed that the goal of the project is not simply job placement, but to find sustainable employment for young people. Following their work in the Caribbean over the past three years the organisation has expanded into Jamaica. De Roeck praised the work of HEART Trust/NTA.

Alzheimer's Jamaica Conference

Kudos to Dr Ishtar Govia who, motivated by a relative's illness, started the STRIDE project to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease. Last Friday we were enlightened by Dr Alfred Chen's presentation on 'Preventing Dementia'. His advice was to promote the process of methylation, which prevents the formation of amyloid plaque on the brain. We should have seven essential nutrients in our diet — active folate, active Vitamin B12, B6, B2, Magnesium, Betaine (aka trimethyl glycine), and Vitamin D. He said inflammation, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol increased our risk. In the case of diabetes, he said this condition increases the risk for dementia by over 65 per cent.

He suggested taking metformin to reduce inflammation and to adopt the ketogenic diet featuring very low carbohydrate intake, adequate protein, and high healthy fats, especially those found in fish and nuts. He encouraged the inclusion of melon, turmeric, ginger, fever grass, lemongrass, sorrel, and moringa, and suggested an increase in the intake of Omega 3. He suggested that a blood test to check one's level of homocysteine could indicate one's risk for dementia.

Fay Petgrave, owner of the Eulice Home for Seniors in Manchester, discussed the importance of respect for patients with dementia. “We do a lot of hugging and 'chupsing' and preserve a respectful privacy,” she noted. “Remember, these individuals once lived active, responsible lives. Each birthday, their relatives join us to celebrate their achievements. It is important that our residents feel safe and valued.”

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