Ja’s youth on the rise

Jamaica Gleaner - - TODAY -

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 co­founder 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 15year-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.


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 north­west­ern 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.

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