Forty five outstanding young persons were recognised on March 24 at the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards for Excellence, an initiative which highlights the achievements of young Jamaicans between 15 and 24 years of age.
The event, organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), a department of the Ministry of Youth and Culture, was held at Emancipation Park in Kingston, under the theme, ‘Youth on a Mission…Project 2062’.
In her address, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller said she was extremely proud of the nominees and awardees for their invaluable contributions locally and internationally.
“You have imagined a life of achievement, a life of excellence and you have refused to accept mediocrity; you have refused to believe that obstacles were in the way that you could not fulfill your dreams, you have refused to place limits on yourself,” she said.
The Prime Minister urged the young people to continue to display optimism and encouraged them not to be daunted by the criticisms.
“I ask you that no matter your circumstances at birth, you are achievers and you can achieve greatness,” she added.
The Prime Minister said the awards were presented because of the hard work of the recipients and urged them to continue in this pattern.
“Jamaica cannot maximize its potential for greatness and achieve what we need in the next 50 years without hard sustained work. You must try to build a quality society, a society that is characterised by excellence,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
Responding on behalf of the nominees and awardees, Basillia Barnaby, the Journalism award winner for 2012, thanked the Prime Minister for the prestigious awards and for championing the cause of the poor, the disabled and vulnerable groups.
“We applaud you, Mrs. Simpson Miller for your efforts, your contribution and most importantly your passion and your love. Through your humanity, your humility, your empathy and your care, you have become more than our Prime Minister, you are the symbol of the mother of the nation,” she said.
Miss Barnaby, who currently works at LOVE 101FM, said the Prime Minister’s recognition of the talent and contribution of young Jamaicans to nation building and her statement of encouragement and commitment to her cause, represents a significant gesture, “which I and all the nominees will continue to be so grateful.”
Recipients of the awards were chosen from nominations for 2011 and 2012. For 2012, a total of 20 young persons received awards, while for 2011, 25 were awarded.
Youth in Service Award winner, 18 year-old Jordon Bennett, who is the founder of a non-profit organisation known as Feeding of the 5,000, told JIS News that he was elated to be a recipient of the award.
“It’s unbelievable. It is the best feeling that I could have. My heart was pounding before they called my name and even after,” he said.
Jordon’s programme aims to feed 5,000 destitute Jamaicans by 2013. He started the project in April 2012, when he and his team of volunteers distributed hundreds of lunches, utilizing five cars to transport them to various locations. He said a concert will be held on July13, 2013 to raise funds for the programme.
Also excited about getting an award in the field of Arts and Culture was young Michael Dane Lewis, who has excelled in visual art, theatre and culinary art.
His future plans include completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication at the University of Technology (UTech) or the University of the West Indies (UWI) and becoming one of Jamaica’s leaders in the areas of news and business.
By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS Reporter