JIS News

Twelve young persons were yesterday (March 28) presented with instruments of office, signalling the beginning of their two-year tenure as Youth Ambassadors for Jamaica.
The 12 appointees, most of whom are university students, are: 22 year-old Dwayne Cargill; 24-year old Keesha Effs; 23 year-old Dwayne Gutzmer; 18 year-old Traci-Ann Johns; 21 year-old Lucet Montgomery; 19 year-old Diego Morris; 21 year-old Kamal Powell; 24 year-old attorney Luciana Ramsay; 25 year-old attorney Melissa Simms; 22 year-old Stefanie Thomas; 24 year-old teacher, Andre Waugh; and 20 year-old Ricardo Williams. They will serve in capacities as ambassadors-at-large, CARICOM Ambassadors and United Nations ambassadors. Simone Smith, the current Commonwealth Youth Ambassador will begin the second year of her tenure in that post.
Speaking at the appointment ceremony held at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson, urged the recipients to be “instruments of change”, as they sought to positively influence the lives of their peers.
“There is nothing like hearing from your own peer group about what is positive and what is of value,” she commented, “and therefore, we are depending on you to be positive influences in the lives of your own peer group.and part of your responsibility is to ‘unteach’ [the negative] your peer group has learnt.”
She further urged the youth ambassadors to be patient in executing their duties, while reminding them that change “will not happen overnight.”
“This is not a quick fix. this is about sustainability, and don’t believe that in two or three days you are going to achieve your objective; what is most important however, is that you maintain your sight and your objective and so in sending you forward, we send you with great hope as young persons of great promise,” the Education Minister said.
Stefanie Thomas, who responded on behalf of her colleagues, said that the youth ambassador would work to make a positive impact on the lives of young people, and by so doing, facilitate positive change in their lives. “Throughout the process of advocacy, we must not forget our motivation, the motivation stems from selflessness and a devotion to positive change.we have to make a positive difference.and as ambassadors, it is our responsibility to lead our peers,” she asserted.
The Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Programme (JAYAP) was developed with the primary aim of enabling young people to become youth advocates, who would represent the concerns, needs, and successes of the nation’s youth at the local, regional and international levels.
The ambassadors were selected from a total of 91 young people, after a rigorous assessment process, where they were tested for a wide variety of skills as well as their knowledge on an array of issues. During the first phase of the assessment, the applicants were taken to Up Park Camp, where they underwent a series of activities geared towards identifying leadership and team building skills.
The second phase was aimed at identifying their communication skills and ability to interact with other young people, and each candidate was required to lead an interactive session with young people from St. Catherine, where they discussed topics that related to youth and youth advocacy.
The final stage consisted of formal interviews, which were conducted by representatives of government and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, the National Youth Parliament, the National Youth Council and former Youth Ambassadors.