Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Jamaica's youth on the rise

Published:Friday | November 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica is a country of exemplary, energetic and talented youth who have been encouraged to tap into their potential while contributing to overall national development. This year, November - Youth Month - is being celebrated under the theme 'Energising Youth'. Through this theme, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI) is seeking to identify, harness and showcase the very best of Jamaican youth.

Ja'dan Johnson is one Jamaican youngster who has been excelling. At an age that most children are busy playing with toys and having fun, Johnson started his first company. At just 10 years old, he started Vybz TV, by shooting videos with his cell phone to feed his live online stream.

The company grew to more than 12 employees in just four years. Today, at 17 years old, the passionate teen entrepreneur is the co-founder of Next Gen Creators, an organisation dedicated to giving youths in Jamaica and the Caribbean an opportunity to explore their talents as entrepreneurs.

Earlier this year, while a student at Merl Grove High School in Kingston, 16-year-old Antini Henderson rushed back into her burning home to rescue her 15-year-old mentally-challenged sister. This was after she had already saved her other younger siblings from the inferno. Henderson was conferred with the national Badge of Honour for Gallantry by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at the annual National Honours and Awards Ceremony recently.

At just 16 years old, Clarendonian Dalton Harris beat out the much older competition to be the youngest winner of the Digicel Rising Stars Competition, winning the national talent competition in 2010.

mighty force

From as early as the auditions, it was obvious that the teenager was a mighty force to be reckoned with, having a voice that was much bigger than his small stature. Harris rose from a life of poverty and challenges in his north-western Clarendon community to grab the coveted title.

Meanwhile, at the Rio Olympics, the entire world watched as 19-year-old Jaheel Hyde competed in the 400m hurdles. Competing against men who were much older and much more experienced than he was, Hyde was not to be underestimated. He made it to the semi-finals in the challenging event, a feat that was achieved by only two of the three Jamaicans in the event. This accomplishment came right on the heels of his second straight World Junior title.

In 2012, at just 15 years old, Tchakamau Mahakoe was successful in a mind-boggling 16 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects, with 15 at grade one and one at grade two. At 17 years old, she achieved the feat of being accepted to 11 American universities, nine of which offered her scholarships. Among the 11 US institutions that accepted the teen's applications were Princeton, Duke, Yale and Stanford universities.

Youth Month activities will centre on the exploration of economic and personal advancement opportunities through science, technology, telecommunications, and the creative industries.