- Ms. Brown, 34, and 18-year-old Orlando Barrett were a part of a batch of 29 students who completed their training under the HEART Trust/NTA National Unattached Youth Programme (NUYP) at the school.
- The NUYP provides opportunities for unattached youth by offering vocational training and certification in several skills areas.
- For Ms. Brown, graduating under the NUYP was one of the happiest days of her life, made even more special that she shared it with her son.
Grange Hill, Westmoreland resident, Aneshia Brown, had her world turned upside when, as a teenager, she got pregnant.
Her dreams of graduating from high school and pursuing higher education were curtailed, as she prepared for motherhood.
Nonetheless, hope never faded for Ms. Brown who harboured thoughts of returning to school to complete her studies, and held steadfast to this belief even as the passing years saw her having three more children.
Her dreams were finally realized on February 20, 2020, when she stood shoulder to shoulder with her first-born, son – Orlando Barrett, as they participated in the 50th Grange Hill High School graduation ceremony at the Grange Hill New Testament Church of God in Westmoreland.
Ms. Brown, 34, and 18-year-old Orlando Barrett were a part of a batch of 29 students who completed their training under the HEART Trust/NTA National Unattached Youth Programme (NUYP) at the school.
The NUYP provides opportunities for unattached youth by offering vocational training and certification in several skills areas.
These include: cake baking, housekeeping, bartending, and business administration.
The programme, which runs between six and nine months, provides Level 2 HEART-certification for persons completing the courses.
For Ms. Brown, graduating under the NUYP was one of the happiest days of her life, made even more special that she shared it with her son.
“It felt good; even now I still have chills. It feels nice to see that everybody was cheering and it was a good experience. I would do it all over again,” she gleefully stated.
Ms. Brown outlined that after having her fourth child, she was determined to advance her education and began asking around for the opportunity to do just that.
“Somebody referred me to the school [Grange Hill High], and told me that a programme was going on down there and it was free. So I went there, and I heard about it,” she explained.
Ms. Brown said “I also talked to my son about it [as] he was not going to any school because of some issues [and] even told a friend about the programme”. She said all three of them did the HEART [entry] test “and we passed it”.
They subsequently commenced the programme at the beginning of the 2018 academic year.
“We did a lot of practicals and we even went on work experience. We went to Royalton where Orlando was in the bar, and I was in housekeeping. It (NUYP) was [and is] very beneficial. It can help you to get work at a hotel or go overseas on a [work] programme. They even have call centre training too that they do, [as well as] plumbing, electrical installation and all of those things,” Ms. Brown stated.
She said since graduating, she has applied for a number jobs in the hospitality sector and has even gone on an interview. She encourages anyone who “wants something in life” to get enrolled in NUYP.
“I can tell anyone who is sitting down and not doing anything, I can refer them to it [NUYP] because it has done a lot for us. Even though I don’t have a job as yet, it is a big step for me,” she indicated.
Orlando also shared similar sentiments, noting that the programme was as exciting as it was beneficial. He pointed out that in addition to the training, he was taught several personal life values and skills, such as working as part of a team.
“It was really excellent and taught me a lot. I would recommend it to anyone,” he noted.
Notwithstanding a recent leg injury that now has him walking with a limp, young Orlando looks forward to the day where he can become a productive member of society.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, lauded the mother and son on the completion of their respective courses under the NUYP.
He indicated that his Ministry provided key support to the programme at Grange Hill High, noting that “there was an uptick of gang violence in Grange Hill, and we thought it was a good time to introduce this programme”.
“The Government is targeting vulnerable youth and providing them with the opportunity to learn skills, become certified, and experience the formal world of work. The goal is to restore their self-respect, dignity, sense of self-worth, self-confidence, and purpose, so that they can become ambitious, empowered and successful individuals,” Dr. Chang explained.
“We are going to work with the school over the next few months to expand the programme and upgrade the academic quality of the students coming into Grange Hill High,” he added.