Michael Lewis - Vision 2030 Begins With Communities Says Clarendonian
The words 'Be inspired to inspire a chain reaction for change' may resonate with others as a slogan, but for 22-year-old Michael Lewis, it's an irrevocable philosophy.
A resident of Glenmuir Housing Scheme in May Pen, Clarendon, Lewis founded the Each One Teach One initiative in 2009 as a fourth-form student at the Denbigh High School. These Saturday classes were geared towards tutoring children preparing to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), who were not financially able to attend an already-established GSAT class in the parish.
Lewis has also made himself a valuable resource by volunteering at the Office of Special Students Services (OSSS) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, where he aids students with disabilities to travel to and from their classes, and takes notes for them, among other things.
"I really can't remember at what age I started to be actively involved in my community because the word 'community' is a relatively difficult term to define, but I'm sure the love for being positively involved began in primary school (Denbigh Primary) as I would attend most - if not all - charity-organised trips," the well-spoken young man told The Gleaner.
Though Lewis' reach in good deeds spans across several parishes, the youngster is quick to point out that an act of love is ranked most favourable on his curriculum vitae.
"It was on Valentine's Day in 2014. Myself and members of Act!on Jamaica, visited The Golden Age Home in Vineyard Town - Cluster H. We each decided to select someone to be our Valentine. We expressed care, love and provided them with tokens as we aimed to inspire and impact them."
Lewis completed a bachelor's degree in entertainment and cultural enterprise management (major) and linguistics (minor) in 2016 and is now pursuing a master's in cultural studies offered by the Institute of Caribbean Studies at UWI.
Turning to the issue of proper time management for school and community involvement, Lewis said: "Being voluntarily involved is much like any other extracurricular activity. I wasn't able to manage my time back in high school, but since I started to attend UWI, it's easier because there are seminars that are held to help students to properly manage their time and balance academics with other activities."
As it relates to the fuel that keeps the engine running, Lewis isn't lacking either. He credits his church, Faith General Baptist, family, friends, and teachers for lending a helping hand in a meaningful way.
Lewis' aim is for individual communities to fulfil their own 2030 vision of being the "place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business".
He also voices strongly his belief that for the vision to take form, volunteerism and acts of selflessness have to be included.
"Jamaica will be actualised as that particular place by 2030 if each community [and] each individual plays his role," he told The Gleaner.
In speaking to his stay in a field of no tangible rewards, but of an ever-blossoming feeling of gratification, Lewis said: "I feel a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment. The joy of knowing that I am using my time on Earth to live selflessly by helping persons - the young and elderly - is what comforts me and assures me that I am living a purposeful life."
He added: "Altruism is something I encourage everyone to participate in. Parents should be driven to carve a voluntary mindset in their children's lives from a tender age, as this will, in the future, allow them to gain numerous experiences. I always tell people I work with - in my own words - 'Be inspired to inspire a chain reaction for change'."
Michael Lewis' projects completed in Clarendon:
- Michael initiated the Each One Teach One GSAT Saturday class programme in Glenmuir Housing Scheme (now dormant).
- Along with Miss Tayloria 2015 contestants, Michael visited the Church of Prophecy Basic School to inspire children to work hard and become successful young adults.
- In March 2015, along with the same contestants, he collaborated with Miss Clarendon Festival Queen 2014 Petrina Williams, who initiated the Clarendon Future Artists Movement. This movement helps students in the Scott's Pass, Berrydale and St Toolis communities to develop talents in the areas of speech and drama, music, dance and visual arts.
- On Read Across Jamaica Day, Michael visited Denbigh Primary School and read to grade one students.
- He uses his talents in the performing arts to actively engage and participate in vigil activities, during Heroes Day celebrations, among other activities in the parish yearly.
Projects completed outside of Clarendon:
- Be My Valentine Initiative: Visited Cluster H at the Golden Age Home on Valentine's Day in 2014 with the Act!on Jamaica Team
- Volunteered at the UWI Regional Disability Conference, assisting the disabled attendees to manoeuvre the day's activities
- Volunteered with the St Andrew South Police Youth Club Council in executing the Boulevard 5K Run/Walk fundraiser, where part proceeds went to the Mustard Seed Community
- In 2015, Taylor Hall's External Affairs Chairperson Terence Moodie coordinated a visit to the Hanbury Children's Home in Manchester, and Michael was extremely excited to be a part of that visit.
- Michael participated in a number of coastal clean-ups with groups such as UWI Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (UWISTAT), Taylor Hall, and Act!on Jamaica.