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The talented 10-year-old Kathryn Gooden, a grade six student of the St. Hugh’s Preparatory School, who copped the top prize in the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) inaugural Heritage Essay Competition, is still beaming from her success.

Kathryn says  she is happy that she entered and she wants to encourage other children to participate in the competition.                                                      

“I would encourage others to enter, because it was interesting and fun while researching and writing, and the prizes are cool,” she says.        .                     

The essay competition, which was held for the first time in 2011, now forms part of the JIS Heritage activities planned during the month of October. Open to registered students at the primary level who are between ages nine and 12, the entrants were asked to write an essay on the topic: 'Who is your favourite National Hero or Heroine? Explain'. It was Kathryn’s  exceptional essay, detailing her love and admiration for Jamaica's sole heroine, Nanny of the Maroons, which placed her ahead of her competitors.

Kathryn explains to JIS News that she chose Nanny as her favourite National Hero, because she was the only female among seven National Heroes and "she was very valorous."                                                                                                    

In her essay, Kathryn wrote that, "if Nanny were still alive, I would want to meet her and commend her for all the things that she had done."

She further notes that a true hero is someone who "stands up, who fights for what you want and is honest and truthful."

Kathryn, who was nine years old at the time, walked away with theJIS first place trophy, a weekend for four at Franklyn D. Resort, Sangster’s Book Store voucher, an MP4 Player and $10,000 cash.

The objective of the JIS Heritage Essay Competition is to stimulate the creativity and literary skills of children in the nine to 12 age group, as the agency continues to engage children in nationally relevant issues of history and governance, in an effort to engender a spirit of pride in the younger generation.                                                                          

The exposure that Kathryn gained from participating in the competition is immeasurable, says Sean Gooden, Kathryn’s father.  There is no monetary value that can be put to it, he continues.                                                                                                   

“Furthermore, being the winner has boosted her confidence level a hundred fold and she also got the chance to meet the Governor-General. I encourage other parents to support their children who want to enter the competition.  The benefits are tremendous – the opportunity to win prizes based on their own efforts, the boosting of their self  esteem, and the chance to increase their knowledge on national and cultural issues” Mr. Gooden says.

The  competition, which is an annual event, is a continuation of a thrust the agency started four years ago, through its programming, to familiarise Jamaica’s children with the national heritage, showcase the children’s achievements and encourage them to participate in national life.

The  2012 essay topic is: ‘Fifty years later…Do we still need National Heroes?’Chief Executive Officer of the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, notes that the topic, while challenging, is geared at engaging the children’s interest in national issues.                                      “This year is our Golden Jubilee and we wanted the students to research and see just how far the nation has come since 1962 and to reflect on the role of a hero,” Mrs. Rowe explains.                                                                                                                                               

The 2012  competition is sponsored by FDR Resort, LIME, Sangster's Bookstore, Royale Computers and Accessories, Innovative Corporate Solutions, Lasco,  Jamaica National Building Society, the Cake Shop  and WB Trophies Ltd.