There is still goodness in Jamaica
A band of six good friends who were first responders for a colleague downed in a school assault as well as the victim of that attack, two teen girls who sprang to the aid of two classmates who were in respiratory distress, another two who filled the homeschool gap during the COVID-19 pandemic, a young girl who made it her duty to bring Christmas cheer to 50 homeless in 2021, and a girl who heldped her school manoeuvre electronic platform during the pandemic were among 29 individuals recognised by the Office of the Children’s Advocate on Thursday.
The grouping, hailed as “extraordinary children”, were honoured alongside 16 adults from various disciplines who have impacted the lives of Jamaican children over time during the inaugural staging of the Children’s Advocate’s Recognition Awards at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew.
Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison told guests at the function, which was originally planned for Universal Children’s Day (November 20), that the individuals selected “demonstrated that Jamaica remains a country which possesses individuals who stand on strong principles of doing what is right, acting with kindness towards others, particularly our most vulnerable, and who are committed to their respective fields of service with dedication and excellence”.
“This holds true despite all the negative news and occurrences that we all know are happening in our society. There is goodness that still persists within us and there is a certain importance attached to recognising and celebrating that goodness,” she noted.
Gordon Harrison said her office had been deliberate in seeking out individuals who were making contributions without fanfare.
“We don’t have the usual suspects in the room. We don’t have persons who would routinely be seen as championing children’s rights and involved in child protection, but certainly the concept, as I understand it, is that we need to recognise people who are contributing well in their sphere of influence. People who are doing things that positively impact children every day in ways that they perhaps don’t even recognise and they themselves haven’t even paused to say, ‘I am really in the field burning the torch for children’s rights,’ ” the children’s advocate declared.
The students — who hail from the BB Coke, Fern Court, Excelsior, Immaculate, Titchfield, Oberlin, and Bishop Gibson high schools — were presented with awards. So too were professionals from the constabulary, legal profession, media, medical field, and early childhood sector.
Following the presentations, a bashful but grateful BB Coke High School student Jaheim Colman, 14, who was beaten unconscious in September by an older peer and had to be carried to a doctor’s office by his seven friends, urged students on the wrong side of the tracks to mend their ways.
“To di whole a di bad man dem out deh now, easy yuhself, work, and believe,” the diminutive Colman said, cheered on by his friends who proudly shared that they were prefects, monitors, form captains, school ambassadors, student athletes, and football players.
Colman, who said has tried not to recall the events of the day he was assaulted, said he is now back in school and focused on his lessons.
His friends, who told the Jamaica Observer that the day will not be one they will forget anytime soon, said they hope to never see a repeat.
The seven, who up to the September 28 incident were merely enjoying each other’s company on their high school journey, have become inseparable since, bonded by the trauma of that incident.