At a time when disturbing headlines involving young people have dominated newspaper and television reports of late, four Reynold Weekes Primary students have warmed the jaded hearts of a nation.
Nathan Leon Blackman, his twin sister Natalia Leon Blackman, along with their cousin Jaquon Blackman and Jerome Forde are Barbados’ newest heroes.
The quartet reached national attention for returning a wallet they found on their way home from school.
Jacquon reasoned: “The wallet was returned to the owner because it was the right thing to do and plus we saw that a lot of money was in it and maybe he had bills to pay.”
They were deservingly praised for their decision to turning over the wallet and the $140 it contained to a vendor at the school. It ultimately made its way to a grateful owner.
The young children, ages eight to nine, were fittingly rewarded by the school for their good deed.
No doubt their parents must be beaming with justifiable pride.
Just when it seemed as though young people were only being highlighted for murders and other egregious crimes, the actions of these four of our youngest citizens have brought a fresh glow over an land beset by dismal stories.
Not too long ago, Ayra Newton, a student at the nearby Princess Margaret Secondary School at Six Roads, was also praised for just walking away from a fight.
That incident, which was recorded and circulated on social media showed Newton turning and walking in the opposite direction from a bully who taunted her verbally and even shoved her in her back.
For literally turning away from escalation, the Ministry of Education saw it fit to honour Newton by naming her Barbados’ first ever Peace Ambassador.
Ayra Newton said: “As a Peace Ambassador now I have to set an example for the younger children and the elderly people too… Now I have to carry myself because I have the title, I have the crown”
Words that were enough to bring tears of joy to a mother’s eyes.
More often than not, too many children in such scenarios find it much easier to take a different, oft-trodden, more precarious path.
Quite frequently, videos are circulated of children fighting, cursing or being abjectly disrespectful to one another.
In one frightening incident, a student even set fire to another’s hair.
Yet, acts of kindness, courage and peace offered by these youngsters show that parents – nay, a nation – should never give up on our children, no matter how dire the situation may appear to be.
It takes a village, but indeed, lax parenting has clearly contributed to deviant behaviour.
But these young exemplars prove the value of giving incentives to young people to motivate positive behaviour.
The Incentive Theory, one of the major theories of motivation, suggests that behaviour is motivated by a desire for positive reinforcement or incentives.
The theory proposes that not only children, but also adults are pulled toward behaviours that lead to rewards, and are pushed away from actions that might lead to negative consequences.
Surely, we do not suggest that the only reason these or any children would do what is right only because they expect a reward.
Indeed, Jaquon Blackman said he returned the wallet because he had been taught to be honest by his mother.
He said: “When I got to school today everybody (was) asking ‘where you find the wallet?’ But my mom always told me to always do the right thing.
“My mom always tell me to be honest because it is good to be honest and you can have good luck because if you do good things, good would always follow you”
When doing the wrong thing seem sometimes the path of least resistance, those moments when children set an example for us all should not go by unheralded.
We tender public thanks, on behalf of an anxious billfold owner and a grateful people, to these young Barbadians who live by the creed they recite daily – to do credit to their nation wherever they go.