NINETEEN young Jamaicans who have made outstanding contributions in various areas were presented with the Prime Minister's National Youth Award for Excellence during a ceremony held Saturday evening on the lawns of Jamaica House.
Awards were presented in the categories of academics, youth development, sports, journalism/e-journalism, nation-building, music, national leadership, innovation science/technology, arts and culture, agriculture and agro-processing, entrepreneurship/social entrepreneurship, and environmental protection.
Among the award recipients were Justin Paul Williams in the category of arts and culture; Zaneta Alvaranga and Jaden Shaw for sports; Alexander Shaw for nation-building; and Alexander Rhys Greenland for environmental protection.
The Prime Minister's Special Award for Excellence was presented to World U-20 triple jump champion Jaydon Hibbert.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his address, congratulated the recipients as well as those shortlisted and encouraged them to continue the excellent work in their various fields of endeavour.
"These national awards are important in a world where negative news is so abundant, where the things that go viral are usually the negative things. Tonight we want you to go viral because you have achieved great things, not just for yourself but for your country. We want your recognition to serve as motivation, encouragement, and inspiration for others to pursue excellence in their chosen field," he said.
He urged them to be beacons of light to their peers and friends, to mentor and inspire those who may not have decided to travel the path of excellence.
"Education and skills training are essential for the future of our young people. Encourage your peers to embrace their education and skills training opportunities that are provided," he said.
The PM noted that the awards recognise the outstanding achievements and contributions of the youth to national development, and said it is hoped that the award recipients and those nominated will be motivated to achieve even greater things in the future.
"Each of you is proof that one person can make a big difference, but together we can all guarantee change if we work together," he added.
In congratulating the awardees, Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams encouraged them to continue to build, create, solve problems, and make this world a better place.
"By your community activities and activism you have shone the spotlight on the important work you do to articulate the concerns of young people and to engage in practical action that is making a positive impact on our wider society," she said.
Cash prizes were also presented to the award recipients courtesy of Sagicor Group and HEART/NSTA Trust.
Fifty-seven individuals, along with three youth groups, were shortlisted for this year's Prime Minister's National Youth Awards for Excellence. The ceremony was held under the theme 'Reignited'.
Approximately 300 awards have been conferred on the nation's youth since the inception of the programme in 1998.
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