MEDIA RELEASE – “Honoring resilience, dynamism, and purpose”, was the theme for last evening’s annual youth empowerment awards hosted by JCI Antigua Youth Empowerment Program (YEP).
The awards ceremony saw nine (9) young Antiguan and Barbudans being celebrated for the work they do in a variety of fields and recognized for their outstanding contributions.
The inaugural YEP awards first took place in 2016, where it was thought to honor the youth in various fields that are oftentimes overlooked. This has been ongoing for the last five years and has seen approximately 60 awardees.
According to the President for JCI Antigua, Ms. Leycia Samuels, “For the 2021 YEP awards, we found it prudent to update our categories to reflect the times and highlight youths who were doing marvelous work to include Mental Health, Agriculture and Education, all new categories to these awards.”
The NGO’s president went on to explain that it is vitally important that the organization find ways to celebrate young people within the society. “For any nation to achieve greatness, it must place a high value on its youth. Our nation’s future depends on the strength of our young people, who are also our greatest hope for the present. With this in mind, we saw the need to honor our youth so they may be motivated to continue on this path and inspire future generations,” Samuels said.
According to Mr. Neilson Duberry and Renata Thomas, co-chairs for the YEP Committee “The Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) has been a flagship project for JCI Antigua for over 10 years. Its focus remains the same and that is to empower the youths of Antigua and Barbuda.
Over the years, the project has seen many different facets, some of these include: The Career Placement, The effective speaking workshop and competition, Youth Symposium, Adopt a school, The debating competition, The essay writing competition, Youth health walk/fitness competition and General training on leaving school. This year, with a team of committed and energetic individuals, we included projects such as Edutainment – which focuses on various PSAs on topical issues such as Covid-19 and Read A Loud – Reading sessions where we ventured to TN Kirnon and St. John’s Catholic to read to students from Grade 2-5.”
The annual Youth Empowerment Awards nonetheless, has steadily become a staple for YEP as the public eagerly tunes in to see who are the national awardees.
The co-chairs indicated they applaud the awardees, who have been recognized as OUTSTANDING professionals in their respective fields. Renata said, “In choosing the theme “Honoring resilience, dynamism, and purpose.” we as an organization would understand that holding conversations about the impacts of the pandemic isn’t easy. People are experiencing fear, insecurity with their livelihoods and complex social challenges are being amplified. However, our active citizens found ways to overcome adversaries and to execute their daily tasks successfully.”
Neilson stated that for the awardees the plan may have shifted slightly since the pandemic, but suddenly the work has taken on a new level of richness where we see the importance of holding space for deep conversations.
The 2021 JCI Antigua Youth awardees included Daniella Mohamed for Humanitarian, Kwesi Jarvis for Entrepreneurship, Ambassador Kimberly Percival for Sports, Jamaul Phillip for Agriculture, Jahfari Joseph- Hazelwood for Music, Tiffany Azille for Education, Regina A. Aparicio for Mental Health Activism, Kamalie Mannix for Leadership and Alfonsina Olmos for Culture.
The organization’s president stated that the YEP awards continue to tie into the overall goals and mission of JCI Antigua. “Our mission is to provide developmental opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. This ties in perfectly with the YEP Awards as we give a platform to youth who can utilize it to network and hone their skills. It is also an opportunity to inspire fellow youths to aspire to excel in whatever they do and that they are never too young to do so,” Samuel stated.
Sponsors for this year’s YEP Awards include JCI Vice President, senators, and other members of the JCI Antigua family, Renegade sounds, Indies Greens, ABS Radio and Television, Total imports, Director of Culture Khan Cordice, Island Provision, and Kavi and Noah from Rapid Media.