Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Inspiration adds to education - 'No Violence in Love for Girls' tour goes to high schools

Published:Thursday | May 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle/Gleaner Writer
Donovan Watkis (left) and Debbie Bissoon.
From left: ZJ Liquid, Denique, Iceman, Bruce Lawrence (audio engineer), Debbie Bissoon, Yendi Phillipps, Donovan Watkis and son Marquis Jordan Watkis, from the 2017 'No Violence In Love' campaign.

The 'No Violence In Love' campaign, launched in 2017 to bring awareness to and reinforce positive images in the minds of the Jamaican population in general, this year narrowed its focus to high school girls with the launch of the 'No Violence In Love For Girls' school tour.

The campaign, which started with a public service announcement and music video shown on local television and radio stations, as well as cinemas, is spearheaded by media personality Debbie Bissoon and author Donovan Watkis. The tour is scheduled to make five stops. So far, across the across the Corporate Area, they have visited HEART's L.E.A.P. Centre, Ardenne High School and The Queen's School. The tour promotes messages of self-love and encourages young women to know their worth.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Watkis said, "I believe more than education, children in Jamaica need inspiration. Many people are learning lessons, but they

are not inspired to be great. So there continues to be persons passing through school and not making an impact. This campaign is about persons loving themselves, respecting themselves, going deep inside to find themselves and then using what they find to change the world."




Bissoon, pointing out that young people are not always shown love, said the tour will encourage them to keep going regardless of their personal circumstances. "We wanted to let the students understand that they are in a privileged position to have access to education and this will give them a chance to chart a new course of life, regardless of any unlovable circumstance they are faced with. We encouraged them to love themselves enough to live their best lives."


Positive response


Both Watkis and Bissoon expressed joy at the response they have been getting from the students. The event's producers said that students have been receptive of the various messages and, therefore, really believe 'No Violence In Love For Girls' is having an impact.

"I had several students come up to me after our presentation, telling me how much they feel even more confident about themselves. One girl said she wanted to pursue a career in media, but faced discouragement in the form of abusive language from her family, and now understands that she has to chart her own course in life. We have received direct messages from students who were in the audience and told us they come from places where they've seen domestic violence in their homes and, from our sessions, they now understand that they are not to be blamed for the circumstances they live in and they have a responsibility to design the future that they desire," Bissoon said. "We are very pleased, because we really want to create good, positive change and it's already reflecting that the message is taking root. We can't wait to see the fruit."

The 'No Violence in Love for Girls' school tour continues on June 6 at the Bustamante High School in Clarendon. Bissoon and Watkis said that for the next academic year, the school tour will expand its focus and reach.