The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The 2016 Ju­nior Car­ni­val de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, Just Us Kids, have their sights set on an un­prece­dented sev­enth win with the por­trayal Mkali-Africa, or Bright Africa. The band en­ters the 2017 Na­tional Ju­nior Car­ni­val Cel­e­bra­tion on July 9 with an un­beaten record of six con­sec­u­tive ‘Ju­nior Band of The Year’ ti­tles since 2011. It will do so with its pop­u­lar stilt walk­ers sec­tion which has been a dis­tinc­tive fea­ture of the an­nual por­trayal and a unique spec­ta­cle con­tribut­ing to the the­atri­cal el­e­ment which the band in­cor­po­rates as a de­sign as­pect of the mas.

CIBC FirstCaribbean has part­nered with the ju­nior cham­pi­ons for the third con­sec­u­tive year as gold spon­sor. In that spon­sor­ship cat­e­gory the bank is sup­port­ing the in­clu­sion of a full cos­tumed sec­tion with over 16 ju­nior rev­ellers who would oth­er­wise not have the means to par­tic­i­pate in the car­ni­val tra­di­tion, while ac­quir­ing mar­ketable skills as stilt walk­ers.

Just Us Kids Ju­nior Car­ni­val Band leader Barry Ge­orge is a well-known and award-win­ning pro­po­nent of theatre and dance in Saint Lu­cia. He says an im­por­tant aim of the band is to foster youth in­no­va­tion in the de­sign and ex­e­cu­tion of car­ni­val events. “We por­tray themes and ex­e­cute them in the­atri­cal style, us­ing this medium as a way to ed­u­cate, ad­vo­cate and en­ter­tain, not as ‘bac­cha­nal’, as it is of­ten por­trayed, but street theatre per­for­mances which high­light how car­ni­val should be,” he said.

Just Us Kids Ju­nior Car­ni­val band con­ducts an­nual Car­ni­val Arts train­ing work­shops for its mem­bers and sec­ondary school theatre arts stu­dents. Th­ese fo­cus on cos­tume build­ing and de­sign­ing to en­sure that there is a con­tin­u­a­tion of car­ni­val builders in Saint Lu­cia.

CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Coun­try Man­ager, Ladesa James-Wil­liams, reg­is­tered the bank’s plea­sure in sup­port­ing “a tra­di­tion of ex­cel­lence”. She noted that Just Us Kids’ ap­proach “con­trib­utes to suc­ces­sion plan­ning for car­ni­val, which is both a cul­tural tra­di­tion and art". She added, "We are big on youth devel­op­ment, on cul­ture, and on ini­tia­tives that pro­mote ex­cel­lence, and will def­i­nitely be there to share in the spec­ta­cle this year.”

Just Us Kids was formed in 2008 to ad­dress the prob­lem of the largely adult ori­en­ta­tion of Saint Lu­cian car­ni­val at that time.

Just Us Kids Ju­nior Car­ni­val Band leader Barry Ge­orge (left) re­ceiv­ing spon­sor­ship cheque from a CIBC rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

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