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Story Highlights

  • Reigning Miss Jamaica Festival Queen, Chereese Ricketts, will soon embark on a national outreach project, aimed at heightening public awareness, particularly among young people, about mental health, and removing the stigma associated with it.
  • She was speaking at the project’s launch, held at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre on Hope Road in St. Andrew, on March 8, where she received a sponsorship cheque in the sum of $200,000 from Lasco Financial Services.
  • For her part, Operations Manager at the Ebenezer Home, Paulette Ricketts, also lauded Ms. Ricketts, pointing out that the festival queen’s inputs at the institution were “very gratifying.”

Reigning Miss Jamaica Festival Queen, Chereese Ricketts, will soon embark on a national outreach project, aimed at heightening public awareness, particularly among young people, about mental health, and removing the stigma associated with it.

The initiative, titled the ‘eMOTION Move Good, Feel Good Tour’, will entail the staging of a series of group sessions and activities for approximately 400 student leaders drawn from 40 high schools at designated locations in each of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) Eastern, Western, Northern, and Southern Regions incorporating all 14 parishes, between March and August.

Ms. Ricketts says these engagements are intended to empower the students to apply what they have learnt within their personal environments, as well as host similar activities at their schools.

She was speaking at the project’s launch, held at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre on Hope Road in St. Andrew, on March 8, where she received a sponsorship cheque in the sum of $200,000 from Lasco Financial Services.

Explaining the reason from the project, Ms. Ricketts cited the connection which she established between mental health and physical activity while she was a student at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Caribbean School of Architecture.

“One of the things that I found was, when I was stressed, I would go to the gym, dance, play badminton and run.  I started to make a positive correlation between my mental health and moving my body. This is the phenomenon that I want to share with Jamaica,” she said.

Noting that eMOTION started at Ebenezer Home for the Mentally Challenged at Gray Ground in her home parish of Manchester, where she conducted weekly classes for clients, Ms. Ricketts said the decision to go national resulted from the positive outcome of that activity,  pointing out that “each week I got to see more smiles and more (personality) balance.”

The 2015 Festival Queen said eMOTION “wants to send a message to young people (particularly those with stress and other mental-related challenges) that you can truly deal with your issues.”

Ms. Ricketts said the end result of the student interactions is to empower the youngsters and, “hopefully, to infiltrate as many schools as possible, not just this year and on this tour, but going forward.”

Meanwhile, the JCDC’s Director for Community Cultural Services, Marjorie Lyden-Vernon, who represented Executive Director, Delroy Gordon, lauded Ms. Ricketts for embarking on “this important and heart-warming initiative.”

She noted that projects undertaken by festival queens have, over the years, focused on areas of national importance. These include: education, children and youth development, and the elderly.

Mrs. Lyden-Vernon said in addition to these, parish queens also execute projects under these themes. She pledged the JCDC’s “full support” to Ms. Ricketts’ eMOTION tour.

In her endorsement, Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network (JMHAN) Chairperson, Jhanille Brooks, said the organization is “very excited” to be able to partner with Ms, Ricketts, pointing out that the “movement is a very effective way of managing (and maintaining sound) mental health.”

For her part, Operations Manager at the Ebenezer Home, Paulette Ricketts, also lauded Ms. Ricketts, pointing out that the festival queen’s inputs at the institution were “very gratifying.”

In her remarks, Lasco Financial Services Marketing Manager, Nicolene Worthy-Donaldson, said Ms. Ricketts being very aware about her environment,  “identified a challenge…and has coined a programme to address it,” adding that “we anticipate a successful programme.”