By RON FANFAIR
The senseless actions of a few misguided young Black youths far too often make news headlines and overshadow the accomplishments of the majority who are achieving success – some beyond expectations – in all spheres of life, says Arts and Culture Jamaica (ACJAM) founder and past president, Paula de Ronde.
“We hear about the guns, we hear about the single parents and those who have been left behind,” she said at the organization’s annual scholarship awards last week at the Jamaica Consulate. “Yet, every year, we and other Jamaican associations here see that other side that helps achieve a balance. We have three wonderful examples.”
This year’s academic award winners were Dexter Brown, Bianca Channer and Kaaleen Joseph.
A graduate of York Memorial Collegiate where he edited the school newspaper, The Mustang Print, and helped produce a radio program and two films, Brown is enrolled in Ryerson University’s journalism program.
“I thank my parents for encouraging me to read, write and do all the right things,” he said in his acceptance speech.
Joseph, who graduated from Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate where she was involved in the mentoring and tutoring program and the music council and drama guild, is a member of the Toronto Children’s Choir and a first-year media arts program student at the University of Guelph-Humber.
A George Brown College graphic design student, Channer graduated from Delphi Secondary Alternative School where she was the only student in her Grade 12 visual arts class who successfully integrated abstract expression with existentialist philosophy.
“I am really so grateful that there are organizations like the ACJAM that support young people that want to succeed academically,” said Channer, who has chalked up over 300 hours of volunteer time with East Metro Toronto Services.
The ACJAM has presented nearly $16,000 to 18 young people since the scholarship program was instituted.
New Jamaica Consul General George Ramocan congratulated the recipients and reminded them that culture and arts represent the heart and soul of Jamaicans.
“I believe that the magnitude and the power of our culture are yet to be fully exploited,” he said. “I believe that Jamaican culture is not only important for our identity as a people, but it has the potential to be a major driver for our economic development and our social transformation. Arts and culture is the core activity that can galvanize our people no matter where they are.”
Ramocan is the new ACJAM patron.