Shacquille Henry - Striving to lift stigma associated with Tivoli
Eighteen-year-old optimist Shacquille Henry is a youngster ushering in an era of positivity to the western Kingston stronghold of Tivoli Gardens.
"Never let where you come from define who you are or where you go," is the firm long-standing belief of the articulate lad.
Henry is the founder and president of Faces of Tivoli Gardens (FTG), a youth group formed in August 2015 to renew hope among residents after an electrical fire destroyed an apartment complex, leaving 14 families homeless.
He also started the Tivoli Gardens Film Club in the wake of the May 2010 incursion as a means of alleviating the mental scars imprinted on children during the incursion. The teenager also boasts an assistant public relations post at the Tivoli Gardens Police Youth Club (TGPYC).
In speaking to The Gleaner about his roots in community involvement, he said:
"My life as a nation builder and 'Come-Unity' brand ambassador began at the age of 13 years old through encouragement from those close to me, family, and friends."
He added: "I often call myself a 'Come-Unity activist'. In my dictionary, the term 'Come-Unity' means peace and love in a surrounding can unite everyone. Activist in my world is get into action and get active. I'm fighting this good fight to lift the negative stigma and stereotype of bad persons associated with my community."
Through strong partnership with the TGPYC, Henry and his Faces group have undertaken several goodwill initiatives in and outside of Tivoli.
The International University of the Caribbean student has aspirations of becoming an electrical engineer. In assessing his balance of studies and community giving, Henry said: "I do Faces work in the day when I'm not at school and labour for school at nights. My friends and members of my network also deserve a pat on the shoulder for either filling in for me or encouraging me."
The annual Miss Tivoli Gardens Pageant, partly coordinated by FTG, gets the nod as Henry's favourite involvement as it serves as a platform for fostering self-esteem in young women.
Shikara Dockery, president of the Tivoli Gardens Youth Club, in speaking to Henry's impact on the community, told The Gleaner: "Shacquille is a young man pushing for a change through positive works."
Henry's traditional family structure serves as a reservoir of motivation for the young patriot in his quest for positivity.
"I get very excited that I'm involved in something that brings a positive change and aids nation building. I would suggest to all youth to advocate for social change. Don't sit and wait for someone to come and do the work for you. You have to take a stand and get out of the comfort zone you're in and get active."
Projects undertaken by Henry in and outside of Tivoli Gardens:
- 1Love in Action Day - Along with FTG and TGPYC, volunteers from as far as the US, Canada, Africa, and Japan aided in cleaning up the debris of the 2015 fire.
- FTG, through partnership with Digicel Jamaica, issued schools supplies and household items for families affected by the 2015 fire.
- Come-Unity Festival and Miss Tivoli Pageant show.
- Historical Site Tour (Bob Marley Museum, 360Recycle Company, and LifeYaad).
- Through FTG, a clean up and renovation day was staged in January 2016, aided by 55 volunteers from the Lacrosse Core.
OUTSIDE OF TIVOLI
- Distribution of gifts to Bethlehem Children's Home in partnership with Good Deeds Foundation
- FTG and TGPYC assisted in building the The Homework Centre in Westchester, Portmore, in December 2015.