Feature
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2019, Khamara Wright.
Photo: Michael Sloley

Story Highlights

  • Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2019, Khamara Wright, has embarked on a project, dubbed ‘Nourish and Flourish’, which is focused on facilitating high-school students with healthy meals.
  • Key among the initiative’s objectives are encouraging creative cooking lessons; fostering and heightening awareness of the need for healthy living and eating practices; and showcasing the versatility of Jamaican foods, while promoting what she describes as the “Jamaican culinary heritage”.
  • “What we eat impacts our performance and our well-being, hence that project is geared towards educating persons about preparing such meals, going into the schools and speaking to the relevant persons, so that we can prepare those meals for the children and they can be educated on how to prepare the meals for themselves,” Miss Wright tells JIS News.

Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2019, Khamara Wright, has embarked on a project, dubbed ‘Nourish and Flourish’, which is focused on facilitating high-school students with healthy meals.

Key among the initiative’s objectives are encouraging creative cooking lessons; fostering and heightening awareness of the need for healthy living and eating practices; and showcasing the versatility of Jamaican foods, while promoting what she describes as the “Jamaican culinary heritage”.

“What we eat impacts our performance and our well-being, hence that project is geared towards educating persons about preparing such meals, going into the schools and speaking to the relevant persons, so that we can prepare those meals for the children and they can be educated on how to prepare the meals for themselves,” Miss Wright tells JIS News.

The Festival Queen, who is a chef and an alumnus of the University of Technology (UTech), says she is passionate about Jamaican cuisine.

She notes that on countless occasions, she is asked to share her food-preparation skills with other persons, adding that this and her interest in health fuelled the birth of the healthy meals project.

Miss Wright points out that by educating individuals about food preparation and healthy eating practices, the project aims to achieve the goal of enabling Jamaicans to realise their full potential through the promotion of healthier lifestyles.

“It is geared towards health, wellness, and nutrition. I would like to see more persons empowered to eat the things that are good for us, and know how to prepare it,” she states of the project to be launched this month.

Miss Wright informs that the project also represents an effort to ensure a sustained reduction of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and will provide an educational opportunity and hands-on approach to encourage healthier meal consumption, purchasing methods as well as an understanding of food from the seed to the plate.

“My mission, as the facilitator and chef, is to inspire, motivate and educate, so that our communities can make more informed decisions about their diets and wellness,” she points out, adding that the food and nutrition classes will be organised for participating schools islandwide.

After each session, students will be allowed to taste the prepared meals, and ask questions. Two students from each school will participate in the Nourish and Flourish Competition, to be held at the end of March, at the Chinese Benevolent Association in St. Andrew.

The Festival Queen expresses the hope that the project will help to stem the generational cycle of lifestyle choices that lead to preventable illnesses, and that nutrition awareness will be taken to a higher level.

“If these objectives are met, the holistic performance of the participants will be positively geared in the right direction,” she argues.

Miss Wright contends that the project is intended to ensure that Jamaicans are healthier, because “we have to be heathier to fulfil our potential”, as outlined in the long-term National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica.

“The project is aligned with that. So in that, I play many parts in educating persons, and ensuring that they are living their best lives,” she says.

Miss Wright, who is also the parish festival queen for St. Catherine, ended a 29-year drought for the parish, when she copped the national crown in 2019.

With a degree in Food Services Management, she is preparing to advance her career by becoming a Wellness Chef, so that she can heighten the campaign for healthier consumption.

The 23-year-old queen has, so far, been conferred with the Marcella Blake Award for Leadership, Commitment and Resilience by UTech, and nominated twice for the Omni Hotel Service Champion Award, while working at the Resort in Texas, USA.

A firm believer in serving her community, Miss Wright is a member of the Greater Portmore Joint Council, the New Kingston Rotaract Club, and the Council of Voluntary and Social Services.

She encourages well thinking, civic-minded Jamaicans to become positive role models for the nation’s youth.

Miss Wright tells JIS News that at age nine she was positively impacted by her school teacher, Tanya Ewers-Clarke, at the Kensington Primary School in St. Catherine.

“I saw her as the woman I would love to [emulate]; she embodied grace and passion,” she notes.

The young social advocate also wants to channel her energy into recycling initiatives, and educating community members about the dangers of pollution.

She says winning the Festival Queen title has served to bolster her motivation for community service.

The Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition, which began as the Miss Jamaica Beauty Contest in 1963, is organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

The need for a greater emphasis on cultural awareness prompted a shift in the competition’s focus in 1975.

The event has grown over the years to become the premier forum for intelligent, culturally aware and poised young ladies seeking a platform for their contribution to nation building.

It is one of the highlights of the Emancipation and Independence celebrations in August.

The contestants at the national coronation are the parish queens who have been crowned during the 13 parish coronations (Kingston and St. Andrew being represented by one queen), held annually across the island.

Several Miss Jamaica Festival Queens have gone on to serve as cultural ambassadors and nation builders in their respective careers and areas of endeavour.

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