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WHEN SIR Patrick Allen descended the stage to present the Governor General's Achievement Award to George Young, Carla Gullotta of Stand Up for Jamaica could not hold back the tears.
She has seen Young give selfless service to the inmates involved in the Stand Up for Jamaica prison programme. What made the achievement an even more emotional one for her is the fact that Young is paraplegic.
"I became paraplegic at age 13 when a community member from Fletcher's land shot at me. He is actually a cocaine addict," Young told The Gleaner shortly after collecting his award at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
That incident took place in 1989 and has forever altered the course of Young's life.
He explained that he did not complete St George's College, but dropped out of school because of ill health.
"After quitting high school, I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital ... . That is the time I would take up my books, self-taught, to get me up to the high school level, where I was able to earn my GED (General Educa-tional Development)," he said.
Young remains committed to furthering his education and will, this year, graduate with a bachelor's degree in human resource management from
the United Kingdom-based University of Leicester.
"I specifically chose to do human resource management so that I can help to create the human and social capital that are needed to enhance Jamaica," he said.
A justice of the peace who is involved in a number of community-based and volunteer organisations, Young does not let his disability stop him from enjoying and having a positive outlook on life.
"It's never easy, but, for me, I enjoy challenges because challenges are there to make you a better person. For me, I like to have fun with my challenges," he said.
Young was one of 11 persons who received the Governor General's Achievement Award for the county of Surrey.