Tanniel Roberts - Deputy head girl a lover of communities
"I had an epiphany while communicating with my family members and I thought, 'Why not put it to use?', because everything great started off with one small idea."
That was the thought process of 18-year-old Tanniel Roberts, the deputy head girl of The Queen's School, who wanted to make a difference in Whitehall, St Andrew.
Said Roberts: "The idea came to me about setting forth a community outreach programme which involves helping students with homework and projects, tutorials and mentorship for those sitting CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) and GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) examinations, and a self-esteem workshop, along with etiquette tips, on a weekly basis."
A resident of August Town since 2013, Roberts has availed herself to serve the needs of her former community of Whitehall Avenue, where she grew up.
The founder of her own youth empowerment initiative, I CAN, the eloquent young lady is driven to usher in positive youth changes in the Whitehall community.
"The initiative began on October 22, 2016, and continued every Saturday following from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The desire is to give back to my community and also to show the youths in the community that someone, or persons, do care and are willing to help them to garner the requisite skills and knowledge to achieve or reach their maximum potentials," she said.
Bearing the mark of a true leader, the upper sixth-form student is quick to credit her support system for her coping with studies and community involvement, stating: "I have supportive persons who make it easier to balance both. In addition to that, I am a very organised individual, so I budget my time wisely and I ensure that I complete each and every task on time."
Assisting two young children with Down's Syndrome via her I CAN programme is one effort that is entrenched in her mind and heart.
"I became a bit panicky and I was wondering how I would deal with them being that it was my first first-hand experience with this case. Nonetheless, I tried very hard and, at the end of the day, when [their guardian] came back for them, they ran to him saying their names and other stuff that they learnt," she said.
"He was shocked and told me that it was the first time that they had spoken out so boldly. He expressed thanks. That very moment stood out to me because I felt a sense of warmth within myself knowing that I had made a difference."
Eighteen-year-old Abbegail Ferguson, a student of The Queen's School, who is familiar with Roberts' goodwill, sang praises for the outspoken teenager.
'I BELIEVE' INITIATIVE
Said Ferguson: "She lives in August Town, but chose to undertake the initiative in Whitehall, where she used to reside. She's that dedicated. She has a passion for helping others."
Gordon is also an ambassador for the Governor General's 'I Believe' initiative.
Roberts will also be extending her I CAN initiative to her current community starting in January 2017.
In urging other youths to lend their time and resources for the betterment of their communities and country on a whole, she told The Gleaner: "Put yourself in the youth's position who can't help him or herself; reap the benefits of feeling happy just by giving back; change the society you live in to the one that is ideal to live in; be an example of what's right about Jamaica; make someone else see the importance of living and giving of their best. Volunteer today!"