Olympian Akela Jones is the face of Rotary Club of Barbados’ Each One Can project.
The announcement was made yesterday at the club’s Independence luncheon meeting at the Hilton Resort.
The project will focus on helping underprivileged young people who have behavioural problems.
President Lisa Cummins said there were many young people who were faced with challenges they did not have the skills to cope with, and one of the reasons for the programme was to let each child know they mattered and there was a better life for them.
Cummins also contended that the way in which Barbadians interacted and dealt with children facing issues needed to change.
Jones, who recently represented the country at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said she was honoured to be a part of the Each One Can project, as she had a passion for helping troubled youth. Having lived in a children’s home for 12 years – from age two to 14 – and spent time at the Government Industrial School for girls, the project is close to her heart.
“I plan on helping in any way I can. If we can help just one child, it can create a ripple effect, so we all have to try. I would not be where I am today without the help of so many people, so I know the importance of helping,” she said.
Jones, who is currently studying Criminology, offered a word of encouragement to other young people, saying that if she could do it, they could too.
“If you are good at something, that is your way out; work hard at it. Education is just a plus. From a young age, I knew I had to get up and do something. I knew I would struggle but I was willing to work hard,” she said.
Using the last word in the project’s title as an acronym, Jones encouraged the Rotarians to collaborate to help the young people, acquire adrenaline to keep going, and nourish the young people in both body and soul.