Feature
Outgoing Youth Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly, Santana Morris at the 24th session of the Youth Assembly in Washington DC in the United States in September 2018.
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • Santana Morris has distinguished herself as a dedicated youth leader, who is devoted to nation building and youth advocacy.
  • Over the last two years, the Youth Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly has been using her platform to empower young people in Jamaica and the Diaspora and to advocate for actions to address the concerns and issues that they face.
  • Her tenure comes to an end next month, but Santana tells JIS News that the mission will continue to bring youth matters to the attention of policy makers and planners.

Santana Morris has distinguished herself as a dedicated youth leader, who is devoted to nation building and youth advocacy.

Over the last two years, the Youth Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly has been using her platform to empower young people in Jamaica and the Diaspora and to advocate for actions to address the concerns and issues that they face.

Her tenure comes to an end next month, but Santana tells JIS News that the mission will continue to bring youth matters to the attention of policy makers and planners.

She says that multilingualism and literacy are two areas that she plans to push.

“Multilingualism is one of my passions and it is an advocacy that I have been promoting. I plan to continue to create an application that students, especially at the early childhood level, can benefit from because you know that in order to enforce multilingualism, we would have to start from the foundation.

“So with the app, I am planning to provide it to early childhood institutions across Jamaica through the partnership of my fellow ambassadors in the Commonwealth,” she notes.

An educator with special interest in literacy, Santana says she will also continue to promote reading.

Through her organisation, the Jamaica Intensive Reading Clinic, she has already written six books to help children master the art of reading and develop their critical thinking and analytical skills.

Santana, who was inducted as youth ambassador on November 23, 2017, tells JIS News that her two-year journey has been fulfilling, having gained tremendous experience locally, regionally and internationally.

She notes that her platform gave her a clearer vision of the issues affecting young people in Jamaica and across the globe.

“A good thing about this programme that I enjoyed was it helped us as youth ambassadors to contribute to seeking solutions on youth issues. I have learnt that as young people around the world, we all have (similar) challenges despite borders,” she says.

One of Santana’s main areas of focus as youth ambassador was to provide opportunities for young people to voice their concerns in a positive and effective manner.

This was accomplished through a series of youth dialogues at the high school and collegiate levels.

Santana made visits to Mount Alvernia High, Montego Bay High, Cornwall College, Herbert Morrison Technical High, Spot Valley High, Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, and Montego Bay Community College in St. James; and William Knibb Memorial High in Trelawny.

She tells JIS News that students openly and passionately shared their views on a number of issues, including poor parenting, absentee fathers, instant gratification, peer pressure and irresponsible use of technology.

“What we have to do as young people is to advocate on these issues and continue to provide solutions in every possible way. I am willing to pass on the knowledge I have received …and I plan to continue by advocacy,” she says.

As Jamaica Youth Ambassador, Santana had the honour of meeting with representatives at the New York City Department of Education in the United States, where she engaged representatives about the cultural peculiarities of young Jamaican migrants in relation to their education.

She also held discussions with Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Courtenay Rattray about various youth-related matters and hosted a motivational forum in Brooklyn, New York, where the engaged young Jamaican nationals.

In addition, she met with Jamaica’s High Commissioner to London, His Excellency Seth George Ramocan, to discuss opportunities for young people living in the United Kingdom (UK).

Santana tells JIS News that her most memorable engagement was her participation in the 24th session of the Youth Assembly in Washington DC in the United States in September 2018.

“During this assembly, I had the distinct honour to make a presentation… on the work that I have been doing in Jamaica. The feedback received from the young people across the Diaspora and stakeholders was incredible,” she says.

She also appeared on television programmes in Canada and the United States to speak about the importance of literacy in the lives of children.

The Jamaica Youth Ambassador Programme is an initiative under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information aimed at promoting youth advocacy and facilitate the participation of young people in decision-making.

The responsibilities of the office include promoting and advocating action on critical national and international issues, and bringing national youth matters to the attention of policymakers and planners.