The Optimist Club of Barbados Central in association with Goddard Enterprises Limited (GEL) recently rewarded Kiahra Legall, Shem White, Jàheim Thomas and Jaden Webster for their positive contributions to society during a Youth Appreciation Awards Ceremony held at the company’s Sports Club facility.
Kiahra Legall was lauded as Key Club President for her ‘excellent’ leadership skills. In that capacity, she helped to direct the ‘Clean Up Barbados’ project; and was involved with several projects including providing donations for care packages and story recordings to primary schools. She also worked with the charity, Unborn Justice, and was involved in fundraising and other activities that supported expectant mothers and babies.
The Award ceremony highlighted Shem White’s role in improving the environment at the Alleyne School especially during the COVID-19 epidemic, when the once vibrant Student Council seemed set to fall apart due to the lockdowns. However, Shem offered himself as its interim President for the academic year 2021-2022 with the pledge to oversee the installation of a new President before the end of the academic year.
During that time, he created an online “Weekly Care Space” and scheduled meetings where students having difficulties especially with online school were offered advice by the council’s senior members, who passed on issues they couldn’t handle to the Guidance Counsellor. White, who recently entered Codrington College to study theology, also managed the students’ council online elections process and so fulfilled his promise regarding the election of a new president.
Youth Ambassador for Barbados in the United States Embassy Youth Ambassador Exchange Programme Jaheim Thomas is another of the awardees. His citation at the awards pointed out that he was ‘most outstanding’ at seeking to influence his peers. “He empowers students in his sphere of influence, and even beyond, to play a role in whatever group or setting they are in, and he gets them to see the bigger picture so that they are capable of working toward a common goal,” it said.
He was President of The Lodge School Debating Society for the past three years and a very involved member of the school’s Student Council and Cadets Corp.
Webster, the fourth awardee, is presently in England attending Woodhouse Grove College on a sports and academic scholarship. Webster’s citation said that he demonstrates that he has the mental capacity, determination, and discipline that augurs well for him to become a cricket great for his country and ultimately the West Indies. Noting that he was ‘called up’ to play for Barbados, the citation described him as a championship winner and noted performer since age 13.
The four were urged to continue to shine and to work hard by the President of the National United Society of the Blind Barbados, Janeil Odle who addressed the Youth Awards Ceremony, which this year focused on the theme ‘Making Waves’. Ms. Odle, an attorney-at-law, said she defined ‘making waves’ as standing above the rest, challenging the current situation and changing the status quo and the awardees were already doing so.
She told them, “You must not give up, no matter the situation that may confront you. You may be working hard and reaching for the stars, and something may come to knock you off course, but you must continue to keep your eyes on the prize. Failure is not final.”
To further illustrate her point, Ms Odle gave the examples of Starbucks and Walt Disney. She said that the founders of Starbucks tried unsuccessfully several times to get a loan and were refused by banks, but persistence paid off and today, Starbucks was operating in over 80 countries and has some 30,000 outlets. She related how Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper company for a lack of creativity and was rejected in Hollywood by those who said the Mickey Mouse idea would not take-off.
“Look now, everybody knows Disney. This goes to show you that … even when you are reaching for your goals things may not come your way, learn to surf the waves and keep your eyes on the prize.”
Commenting that some may question how those international examples related to the Barbados situation since comparatively more opportunities exist in those larger countries, she told the awardees: “Hopefully you can gain some inspiration from this young girl in a small country, who at six years lost her sight; … was told she could not sit or pass the 11-plus Common Entrance Examination… would not amount to anything.”
“She continued to knock on every door; … to petition anyone who would listen, she continued to prove everyone (naysayers) wrong because she knew that she had potential and with family support, not only was she able to sit the Common Entrance Exam, … to graduate valedictorian at the Barbados Community College, … to graduate with first-class honours at the University of the West Indies but today … is an attorney at law. That is my story,” she said.
Ms Odle concluded by telling the awardees that they would reach their destination if they kept on keeping on, and if they believed in themselves even though the waves may try to knock them off-course. She urged them to remember that failure but was a way of teaching them that the method they had chosen was not working and they needed to try a new way.
The prizes were presented by Valerie Lovell, Head Office People Coordinator at Goddard Enterprises Ltd.