Thu | Sep 20, 2018

'Image Kid' determined to make it big out of Tel Aviv - Street smarts fuel youth's dream

Published:Monday | April 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer

Though violence and badness continue to prove a glamorous lure for many young men in the central Kingston community called 'Tel Aviv', a 22-year-old who goes by the name 'Image Kid' is determined not to walk that road.

"You live by the gun, you die by the gun," the Donald Quarrie High School past student asserted during a Gleaner/RISE Life Management On the Corner with Unattached Youths forum in Rum Lane in central Kingston last Wednesday.

The unemployed youngster, who describes himself as a lover of fashion and nightlife, recounted how, over the years, he lost family and friends to gun violence in the community.

According to Image Kid, he was under no illusion about the criminal activities of some members of his community.

"I witness my cousin get 15 shot two years ago on May 31. Mi jus done play ball, scored a goal that day, too, suh mi well happy. Mi sit down and mi si two man ride pass, si di gun a show.

"... Knowing the violence what a gwaan in a di community, plus the badness weh him involve ina, mi say, 'Cuz, yuh fi get it a while ago, you know' and five minutes later, them circle him," recounted Image Kid of the day his cousin was killed.

He told our news team that the majority of gunmen in the community are juveniles.

"A bare little youths like myself a mek di duppy dem, and mi never think bout tek up a gun, and go try mek back a duppy. Mi witness who kill my family and mi never even go court go talk because our choices in life always catch up to us," added Image Kid.

Despite making it to fifth form, Image Kid did not graduate from Donald Quarrie High School and did not leave with passes in any Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects.

But the young resident of the troubled central Kingston community of 'Tel Aviv' told a Gleaner/RISE Life Management On the Corner with Unattached Youths forum in Rum Lane last Wednesday that he continues to educate himself through constant reading and research into current issues.

"When me did a go school, me did a pree the tight pants and the Clarks shoes pon foot, so the book ting neva get the focus that it should. But I'd like to go back to school to get couple CXC," he said.

"I can read and write, I can check, I can spell, I just require further schooling to advance myself, just like other residents."

Now a young father with a two-year-old son, the youngster says he's looking towards the future with optimism, fully confident that he can provide a better life for his child.

"I see myself owning a clothes store, because I love to model. Mi nuh affi mek it ina life by CXC or office work. Street smarts can do the trick also. I see assets in my future. I see myself moving out the community, but always a give back. What I don't see is a gun or violence. Mi nah neva go down that road," declared Image Kid.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com