KINGSTON – Calabar High School's Students' Council President, Jevaughn Leon, and thousands of other high school youths will be attending the annual staging of the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletic Championships, at the National Stadium in another two weeks.
Scheduled for March 30 to April 2, the event has been plagued in the past by hostility and intense rivalry between schools. There have been on-going efforts by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and government agencies to maintain peace during, and leading up to, the event.
Students for Transformation (SFT), youth arm of the National Transformation Programme (NTP), is staging the 2011 Champs Peace Initiative with the theme, “Peace, Love and Unity, Always”, which includes a school tour organised by the SFT, in collaboration with the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN) of Uruguay and Jamaica’s Child Development Agency (CDA).
Leading up to Champs, the SFT, in partnership with Miss Jamaica World 2010, Chantal Raymond, who has been appointed Champs Ambassador, will visit approximately 11 high schools during morning devotions, with powerful messages of peace. Miss Raymond will give motivational talks on peace, love and unity, while Kenroy Henriques, known as “DJ Slims” from Seaview Gardens, will lead the “edutainment” segment.
At these sessions, students will be encouraged to “Level the Vibes, “Increase the Peace,” and “Let Peace Begin with Me”.
Jevaughn was happy when the school tour stopped at Calabar High School, Red Hills Road, Kingston, recently. He was among some 250 exuberant students treated to motivational talks and songs from SFT team members.
“Based on what took place, I think it is a new way of introducing peace sessions to the boys. It is something that I have not seen since my six years coming to Calabar,” he told JIS News.
He noted that the boys were introduced to role models, who have to be well-rounded, have certain decorum about them while, at the same time, enjoy what they do.
“It is basically showing them that you can have fun, doing what you do and being the best at what you do, without the violence,” Jevaughn added.
Asked about his role at Champs, Jevaughn said, “I’ll be there to show my support and probably get the guys together, to involve them in some new Champs songs, just to build up the hype in support of the group and probably try to keep the guys in line.”
Jevaughn is of the opinion that the main purpose for attending Champs, should be to enjoy the events and to support the athletes.
“The main objectives of going to Champs should be for the sole purpose of enjoying yourself one, and promoting your school, encouraging the guys of your schools, your fellow friends, your colleagues, help them to go on and to do their best,” he stated.
He does not foresee any anti-social behaviour from Calabar students at Champs.
“Calabar is just about respect. We are lions, we are full of pride, yes, and there are times when there is a cause for us to be fierce. We will be fierce in the battle of sports, but not the physical one,” he stated.
Jevaughn expressed concern that some students “hang out” with the wrong crowd, in trying to protect themselves.
“So you are trying to protect yourself in the most harmful way, by going to Champs with the group that has the most weapons, the group that has the most hype, and you find that people would naturally clash because nobody wants to be disrespected, and you find that some boys will always clash because everybody feels the need to be on top, and that’s just the way the society is right now,” he said.
Director of Development, Planning and Monitoring at the NTP, Fabian Brown, said the programme is very concerned about the increased reports of violence, and the inability by school children to resolve conflict.
“It’s against this background that we are making a concerted effort to engage practical initiatives, that will encourage students during this Champs fever time to win and maintain peace, as they interact at school and with other schools,” he said, adding that messages of peace will be taken to other schools.
The Development Director said that the initiative will include a public service announcement to be voiced by the SFT team and Miss Jamaica World. There will also be a motivational talk, with select school captains and athletes. Guest speaker will be American National Football League (NFL) player, Jeremy Mincey, of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“The public service announcement will be geared towards engaging students and Champs fans, across Jamaica, to a peaceful rivalry and to ensure that, at the end of the day, we recognize that, despite the differences in school preferences, we are indeed out of many Jamaicans,” Mr. Brown said.
The school tours are being coordinated by the SFT’s transformational team members led by Chairman, Howard Chamberlain. They have been carrying messages of peace through music, songs and motivational talks during their stops at schools. So far, the team has visited four high schools, including the Queen’s School, Kingston College and Holy Childhood High School.
Activities will culminate with a joint student Peace Walk around the field at the National Stadium on the final day of Champs.
Additionally, Mr. Brown said the SFT members will distribute items with messages of peace, love, unity, respect and other core values being promulgated by the National Transformation Programme.
By Elaine Hartman Reckord, JIS PR Officer