Amid the frequent instances of police bulletins for young wanted men, the stupidly triumphant grins of youthful accused as they are marched to and from law courts, and the too frequent reports of senseless bloodletting, there is still much to be pleased about with our young people.
The development of any nation rests heavily on its youth, and though we are often dismayed at the direction many of them take, we daresay that those making positive contributions to country, family and self are in the majority.
Talented athlete Akela Jones, whose story is one of rising above adversity, is an excellent example for young men and women who aspire through sport to make their way in the world. Genetically blessed, Miss Jones, from a very tender age, showed the potential that earmarked her for future greatness.
Nurtured by the likes of sports icon Kathy Harper-Hall and brought up in the first-rate sports environment that exists at the Springer Memorial School, Miss Jones is on a journey that with dedication, financial support and proper guidance, seems headed for international stardom. Her exploits at Kansas State this year in being crowned the 2015 NCAA heptathlon champion gives hope that her stated dream of being Barbados’ first Olympic gold medallist becomes a reality.
With confusion, failure and ineptness in West Indies cricket perhaps dimming our recollections of past glories, Jason Holder was thrust into a leadership position in our favoured regional sport. Despite negative responses from several quarters, the young man accepted the poisoned chalice, as is the inclination of those with fearless, youthful enthusiasm.
He was entrusted only with the leadership of the One-Day International side, but so impressed all and sundry on tours to South Africa, and Australia and New Zealand for the ICC World Cup, that there are now suggestions from many that he be handed the captaincy of the Test team. Whether he is given this added responsibility or not, it speaks volumes for the impression he has made to regional observers at age 23.
Twenty-five-year-old Donnya Piggott was on Monday presented with the Queen’s Young Leaders Award at Buckingham Palace. She was honoured for her role in taking up the mantle of advocate for sexual minorities. She is the principal spokesperson for the Barbados Gays and Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD).
One’s sexual orientation is not the issue here. Nor is this a case of promoting the adherence to or disobedience of religious dogma. We also do not stress any point on the laws of Barbados as it relates to any specific practice. What we emphasize is Miss Piggott’s conviction to advocate for the rights of a particular group of citizens against whom there might be cases of discrimination.
One might not agree with her fight –– for whatever reason –– but one cannot help but admire her willingness to put herself in the limelight for a cause in which she believes and for which she is likely to be derided.
In May, 24-year-old Eleazar Williams set a record on the occasion of his graduation from the Regional Police Training Centre when he was presented with awards for every category of study and training which that institution had to offer. The graduate of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, spoke to his solid family upbringing and their faith in God. He stressed the influence which both church and family had on his life.
Recently, Joshua Forte, the brains behind the Red Diamond Compost’s creation of organic soil enhancers, and Nikele Davis, pitching a natural hairstyling app for women, were among 12 youthful Caribbean entrepreneurs advancing in a challenge to push their respective business dreams.
Throughout the island, hundreds of young people are striving to make a difference, and it is incumbent upon us, as a society, to facilitate and encourage their aspirations. Private and public sector assistance and advice must be made readily available to ensure that the future of the country remains viable in their hands.
Of course, some will be lost to crime and other forms of deviancy. That is the way of the world. But we should never allow the few to define our youth. Our task is to accentuate the efforts of those who seek to build. Perhaps, those who seek to destroy might become awash in the positive slipstream.