Fri | Jul 21, 2017

Groomed for growth

Published:Sunday | August 10, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen (second right) addresses the 13 contestants in the 2014 Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition, when they called at King's House in July.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller greets Anjell Bryan, the 2014 Festival Queen, during the Independence Grand Gala celebrations held last Wednesday at the National Stadium. - File
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2014 Anjell Bryan (Miss Kingston and St Andrew, centre) with first runner-up Sharlene Codner (Miss St Ann, left) and second runner-up Honica Brown (Miss Trelawny, right), celebrate at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Hope Road, on coronation night. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
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Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer

With the 2014 Emancipation and Independence celebrations now past, this year's Festival Queens are looking forward to executing their plans for nation building.

Their intentions would been buoyed by the training they received from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) as, according to top entrants, the organisation's training helps to build character. The ladies encouraged others to enter if they want to play a role in making Jamaica a better place, while simultaneously benefiting from personal development and growth.

"Young women should enter this competition if they are looking for a lifestyle switch towards the better, because at the end of the competition you will not be the same. The competition will help you to understand yourself and your role as a woman in today's society and it will equip you with the necessary tools to move forward," second runner-up in the national finals, Honica Brown, told The Sunday Gleaner.

Miss Trelawny also praised JCDC for the areas of training it emphasised during the competition. Among them were speech, diction, punctuality, discipline and poise. "It makes you see Jamaica from new perspectives and, trust me, if you loved Jamaica before you love it more after being in the competition," she said, laughing.

Brown said the competition encourages community service and volunteerism, while at the same time paying attention to intellect, intelligence and talent. She also disclosed some of the plans she hopes to execute. "I grew up watching the show and it's something I promised myself I would do to give back to my community. I have an ongoing community based project called Development Through Care (DTC) and I am looking to improve and expand that, because I believe that we all need to start caring about the each other again - especially our children,"she said.

The DTC initiative will host workshops at Bellevue Primary and Junior High School in Perth Town, Trelawny, and, according to Brown, DTC is designed to help teachers and students strengthen relationships and also provide social intervention through interactive activities. The Festival Queen is also seeking financial backing to improve security at the Bellevue Primary and Junior High School. "Bellevue has no fencing infrastructure in place and, as such, students run off as they please. I am working towards funding for this, because our children need to be in a secured and safe environment," she said.

Brown is also looking to launch a campaign to reduce violence against women in general, as well as crack down on domestic violence. "This is an effort to sensitise the public and make women and men aware of how serious of an issue domestic violence is and, most importantly, what to do when you realise your relationship has taken a turn for the worse," she said.

The Festival Queen further hinted at other plans to be revealed in coming weeks. "I would like to say to young people, don't allow the circumstances around you to keep you down. Get up, stand up and do all you can to create for yourself the life you want. Identify a dream and never let anyone tell you that you can't. Examine Vision 2030 and ask yourself how can I contribute to making this a reality. Above all love yourself, your hair, your skin passionately, for it is yours,"she said.

Winner of the pageant, Anjell Bryan, also
showered praises on the competition run by the JCDC, stating that it
boosts self-confidence and empowers women. "It gives females a platform
to represent their country and to make a positive contribution to
whatever that passion might be. I feel like I am a more rounded person
and I have broadened my scope and ability," she told The Sunday
Gleaner
. She will spearhead a national initiative called the
Guardian Angel Shoe Box project. This will be launched in coming weeks
and members of the public will be asked to donate shoeboxes with
stationery, toys and toiletries to the JCDC offices islandwide for
charity.

The JCDC's Festival Queen coordinator,
Kemesha Kelly, said this year's competition attracted 180 applications
from young ladies who wanted to represent their respective parishes. She
says the competition means more than just being a pretty face, but
concerns making Jamaica a better place.

"It's about
being a cultural ambassador and being active in the community. And it is
important for ladies who want to be a part of national building to be a
part of the pageant. They are also exposed in a manner which is similar
to no other pageant in Jamaica, because this is also a programme," she
said.

The winner of the competition is also the
National Youth Ambassador for Vision 2030, under the Planning Institute
of
Jamaica.

curtis.campbell@gleanerjm.com