Now a Certified Electrician and Barbados Defence Force soldier, Private Barrow D. (Damien Barrow), called on current youth beneficiaries International Game Technology’s (IGT) After School Advantage (ASA) Programme to take time out to discover their goals, work to attain them and help others along the way.
Private Barrow D. (Damien Barrow), a regular volunteer and previous IGT ASA beneficiary from The Learning Centre in Barbados, shared his first-hand experience of the positive impact that the Centre’s past initiatives had on him.
“I found interest in the Information Technology (IT)-related activities that were hosted at The Learning Centre through the IGT ASA Programme. I wanted to know more about the field, so I pursued engineering courses” he said, adding that he “currently use those skills today in the Barbados Defence Force” where he serves as an electrician.
He continued, “The lesson that I would like to impart to you from my own experience is that knowing what you want to do is essential to your success and when you have figured it out, give it your best and remember to help others that will be following in your footsteps.”
The International Men’s Day celebrations saw young males participating from IGT ASA Centres in Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.
Dexter Thomas, Deputy Country Manager for IGT in Trinidad and Tobago noted, “We have streamlined our IGT ASA initiatives to ensure that the young men in our IGT ASA Centres across the region are celebrated and supported in ways that we believe will aid them at very crucial points in their development.”
Thomas further explained, “This year’s activities were carefully planned to ensure that there was a safe space for our young men to relax, express themselves, seek guidance for various issues that they might be dealing with and to voice those concerns.” He added, “Our young males need responsible grown male figures in their lives who they can emulate. It is our hope that this series of Men’s Day events will inspire them to be the source of positive change for the generation of men to come.”
The young men also engaged in pre-celebratory activities with IGT executives who visited them at their various IGT ASA Centres. The slate of activities included joinery, barbering, home economics, painting, football and basketball matches, board games and Big Brother 101 rap sessions.
Call to Harness the Power of Technology
No strangers to IGT ASA empowerment sessions, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Education professionals, Kadia Francis and Tanique Easy shared their insights with the young males on digital literacy and preparing for their careers.
Francis, Founder and CEO of Digital Jamaica Limited, encouraged the participants to use the internet to surf and earn responsibly. She emphasised the importance of seizing economic opportunities online and in the same breath, cautioned the young men about real-world consequences of nefarious online activities.
“The internet provides a means by which you can generate multiple streams of income. To seize those opportunities, you need to seek knowledge about the technological skills gap in society and attempt to acquire those skills. Once acquired, you need to practice being visible, disciplined promoters of your skills and use the digital space to create an online brand for yourselves – this is where social media comes into play.”
She added, “As much as the internet giveth, it also taketh away. Be mindful of plagiarism, creative theft, job scams and fake news. Ensure that you ascribe credit to authentic sources for data that you use, watermark your creative work to safeguard against theft, use authoritative sources to avoid fake news and consult reputable job boards to search for employment opportunities.”
In the meantime, Dream Builders Academy’s Tanique Easy discussed important processes of cultivating a career-ready mindset, gaining internships, volunteering and building personal professional brands.
“Preparation is key to success and to be prepared you must first be informed. In this era, there are some important career attributes that you need to be equipped with if you are to be seen as career ready. Some of these include IT literacy, creativity, flexibility, leadership, productivity, the art of effective communication, critical thinking and collaboration.”
Easy encouraged the young men to dispel the commonly misinterpreted notion that curiosity kills the cat. “Curiosity does not kill the cat; it enlightens the cat. Cultivating a career-ready mindset is centered on what you know. You must know what drives you and nurture this authentic aspect of your being. You also need to know your academic, creative and professional strengths as well as where to seek development opportunities and you must know your audience so you can cater to them well.”
The Men’s Day presentation ended with a question-and-answer segment where the young men sought further career and tech guidance from the IGT Executives and IGT partners.