MARTHA BRAE, Trelawny — The Holland High School's Men for the Upliftment of Self- Esteem (MUSE) group had its first in a series of planned empowerment sessions for the academic year, recently.
The initiative which started almost eight years ago, is geared at strengthening, motivating and inspiring the male population at the Trelawny- based co-educational institution.
Recently, the group was addressed by District Medical Officer for Trelawny, Dr Lennox Reid, who in his inspiring presentation, outlined to the males aspects of his childhood days.
He emphasised that it was "not a bed of roses when his mother got pregnant with him at the age of 19 and his father was nowhere to be found".
" It was a nerve rocking moment for my mother who at the time had to make a decision whether to bring the child into the world in her poor state, or pursue her dream to become a teacher. The pregnancy was certainly a major setback," Dr Reid stressed.
He also recalled the many struggles he endured in his quest to get a decent education.
"While I was in Cuba, for example, participating in a construction work exchange programme between Cuba and Jamaica, I went straight to Fidel Castro's (then President of Cuba) office and said I wanted something else to do. I was then sent to do some exams, which I passed, and soon after I was well on my way to becoming a medical doctor," he told the students.
He urged the boys to "be bold, ask questions, make the right decisions, be positive, be respectful and never forget where you are coming from".
The MUSE programme was conceptualised after grade 9 male students featured prominently in most of the "disciplinary issues" at the institution.
Additionally, the guidance counsellors there had reported that some male students exhibited varied emotional deficiencies ranging from the need for parental affection, to open aggression and bullying of the younger students.
The programme has since been widened to cover the entire male population at the school.
"The success of this programme has been remarkable," MUSE coordinator Everton Wallace told the Observer West.
"It definitely has met its objective because we have seen where the boys are now more focussed, their academic performance has improved and they no longer have severe behavioural problems".