- With a membership of 12, at its inception in 1997, the Club now has 120 members, with a focus on empowerment for the community youth.
- “We have been creating history, by unlocking the doors to possibilities, and channeling our artistic energies towards the upliftment of a better Jamaica,” stated Secretary of the Club, Toni-Ann Williams.
- The Child Development Agency (CDA), has also taken note of the impact that L & T, is having on the lives of young people.
The Lauriston and Thompson Pen (L & T) 4-H Club, in Spanish Town, has been praised for consistency in charting development initiatives for youth in the area for 17 years.
With a membership of 12, at its inception in 1997, the Club now has 120 members, with a focus on empowerment for the community youth; beatification of the communities; and education for all. The latter is evidenced by a 2008 partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), to upgrade the Lauriston Basic School. Additionally, the Stew Festival, spearheaded by the Club, and held in November of each year, has become a major event, attracting scores of patrons.
“We have been creating history, by unlocking the doors to possibilities, and channeling our artistic energies towards the upliftment of a better Jamaica,” stated Secretary of the Club, Toni-Ann Williams, while speaking at the Club’s 17th anniversary celebration ceremony, held at the Shiloh Apostolic Church, in Lauriston. She added that over the years, the group has engaged in activities geared at helping to “motivate Clubites on how to become well-rounded individuals…(and) being successful at the yearly 4-H parish and national achievement expos”. She noted that this year, the Club was particularly proud to have been placed second in the high school category of the expo. Ms. Williams informed that the clubites have traveled to many places of interest, and have been visited by influential persons, as part of motivation and character building initiatives.
Addressing the anniversary ceremony, Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Ronald Blake, said of its over 40 community clubs, L & T “is making the most important mark on community development”, highlighting that the group has facilitated business ownership, and provided training, education and job opportunities for its members.
For her part, Councillor for the Lauriston Division, Keisha Lewis, said the Club’s record is a “remarkable achievement.” as it has demonstrated exemplary leadership, and volunteerism. “We are looking for future leaders, and the fact that they can practice volunteerism at this time of their lives, means that we have some persons who understand how to build their communities from a young age,” she said. “It has remained strong because of the commitment of the leadership, as well as the intervention of all stakeholders who participate in ensuring that their programmes are funded, and remain on par with their mission and mandate,” the Councillor added. Miss Lewis further pointed out that founder and head of the Club, Shian Christie, has played a remarkable role in making the group relevant. “He was brought up in the system, and through it, he has elevated himself, and is imparting his tenacity to the young people under his stewardship,” she said. She noted that as a political representative for the area, she has stayed close to the group by offering necessary support as the club is “that beacon that is at the forefront of community development… this is a youth club in the Division that has maintained vibrancy, and continues to lead the charge for young people to be engaged for community and personal development”.
In his commendation of the group, Assistant Superintendent, Fitzalbert Linton, of the St. Catherine North police division, while imploring Club members to continue on their positive path, noted that “you have our support”. The Child Development Agency (CDA), has also taken note of the impact that L & T, is having on the lives of young people. “Let us build strong family ties, so that the families of these young people will support and encourage the efforts that have been started by the 4-H Club,” stated CDA Regional Director, Robert Williams.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Senator Norman Grant, said the group is a “great example” to society. He informed that over the next year the 4-H Clubs, will “intensify our efforts to establish more community clubs, which would have the type of impact that L and T, is having on this community, as part of the mission to empower, and have safer communities”. Senator Grant also used the occasion of delivering the keynote address, to announce a 90 million training initiative for young people, funded by the Sugar Transformation Unit (STU), as well as a $6 million entrepreneurial programme for youth across the island. This is set to commence in November. “We will seek to create opportunities for some 300 young persons in agriculture and agro-processing. It is part of our commitment to entrepreneurial development, and creating opportunities for our young people. You can be part of that process that helps to drive national development, and ensure that our 2030 Vision remains a reality,” he stated. Each year the Club selects four outstanding persons from the area who receive various awards from major corporate entities. They are crowned King, Queen, Princess, and Prince. “I thank our sponsors, I feel proud that we have achieved so much,” stated Mr. Christie.
Commendations also came from 4-H Club Parish Development Officer for St. Catherine, Elaine Campbell, who noted that they have shown all the good that can come of inner-city community, “many others have come and have gone, and have not been able to remain sustainable, but L and T, has been able to do so through tenacity and dedication,” she said.