JIS News

Her brother was transformed from a laid-back young man to a motivated and disciplined individual. It was this dramatic turn-around in her sibling Gary, that inspired Donnaree McKenzie to enrol in the National Youth Service (NYS) training camp.
Now, after attending a rigorous four-week NYS training camp in early childhood education, Donnaree says she has seen a vast improvement in herself.
She recounted her brother’s 180-degree personality change that opened her eyes to the possibility that she, too, could benefit. Returning from the training camp, she says “he showed a lot more responsibility and leadership qualities, but most impressive of all, he was waking up earlier in the mornings”.
“I was normally a shy person but since participating in the programme, I’ve learnt so much like how to step out there and become a leader in front of everyone – that was a big step for me. The programme has also strengthened me in terms of leadership qualities and also taught me how to lead a more positive lifestyle,” Donnaree tells JIS News.
All too happy to recommend the NYS early childhood training camp to her youthful peers, Donnaree says it is a valuable experience that can curb waywardness and steer one along a disciplined path.
“I started telling people about it before I even came here because there are a lot of indisciplined young people out there and on coming to the camp, I saw a few of them. In a lot of ways, I’ve seen improvement in them because I’m a very observant person,” she says.
Donnaree, who aspires to become a pharmacist says, “for a lot more teenagers, I think this will be very beneficial to them”.
“I’ve been around children who are shy also and being in this programme, we have cultural productions, speeches and debates, and the shy people you’ll find them coming out and taking steps and this is what helps to bring out that leadership side of them,” she adds.
A total of 317 young adults graduated in December 2003 from the month-long early childhood training camp at Knox Community College’s Cobbla Campus in the cool hills of Manchester.
The common objective of NYS training camps is to make participants more socially conscious and disciplined.
The Manchester camp introduced participants to important aspects of early childhood education. The young men and women were exposed to subjects such as creativity and the young child, understanding child development; children with special needs; and literacy. There were other activities such as toy making.
At the end of their course, the graduates, aged 17 to 27 years, assumed temporary jobs as teachers’ aides in basic schools across the island. Donnaree, a Kingston resident, was placed at the Sunshine Basic School.
The 22 year-old graduate, who was voted by camp officials as the Most Outstanding Female Participant, tells JIS News that she eagerly awaits the opportunity to make a contribution to the lives of the young people she will be teaching over the next nine months.
If nothing else, she wants to ensure that she imparts to them the importance of helping others. Her eagerness to foster the spirit of volunteerism in the minds of her young charges is a result of her training.
“I think it is my duty as a citizen to help as much as possible.this is an opportunity for me to teach young people who are coming up in life, how they can also assist people,” she says.
There are many other benefits that Donnaree gained from her participation in the NYS camp.
“First of all, I’ve learnt how to deal with children. They’ve taught me ways I can use to identify small problems with children.. teaching them how to develop their personalities, how to conduct themselves and how to develop their little muscles through physical education,” she says.
Over the last four years, 1,600 participants have been trained and deployed by the NYS to support early childhood institutions across the country.
Donnaree hopes that “in the future, I’ll be able to be one of these adults at a NYS camp helping the young people in this generation, because I really enjoy being in this programme”.

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