The biographies of some of these young adults are ripe with examples of courage overcoming despair.
Seventeen year old Ariann Maynard of the Nevis Sixth Form College is one such outstanding teen. Discovering that she was pregnant at age 13, Ariann was able to bear the fright, shame and jeers of her classmates and rely on the support of her mother and family to give birth to twin boys. Temporarily taking a break from school during her pregnancy Arian still kept up with her studies and was able to resume school after their birth.
In 2011 she graduated from the Gingerland Secondary School on par with her classmates sitting eight CXC exams and earning seven passes and one Distinction. Ariann was given the award of “Courage to Overcome: Personal Decision.”
Another seventeen year old Shani Reid of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College believes that volunteerism teaches compassion and understanding and should be an important part of all teens lives. She was a class leader at the Charles E. Mills Secondary School and served on the Student Council Executive from first through to fourth form. She was on the Honour Roll and earned three CXC Distinctions. She volunteers at the Red Cross Society, assists the Sandy Point Young Football Association with medical tips and the Sandy Point Co-Operative Farming Society with harvesting and maintaining of their farm. Shani became the victim of bullying after taking a stand at a class meeting calling for unity in her class. Several students eventually came around and the class was able to sort out its differences thanks to the efforts of a guidance counselor. Shani was given the award for “Community Service.”
Sixteen year old Stayfield Pryce of the Cayon High School was born with webbed fingers (a fusion of the digits termed syndactyly), and without legs and experienced much bullying, scornful stares and glances of fear from others. Yet he matter-of-factly states “This is all I’ve known and to me, it’s not really a big deal.” At six, he was fitted for prosthesis and found that he could run and have fun like other children and came to realization that he could do whatever he put his mind to. He enjoys skateboarding by balancing on his torso and moving expertly through the streets. He also plays cricket as a bowler.
He is in the Cayon High School Choir and feels fortunate to have experienced the love of his family. Stayfield was given the award for “Courage to Overcome: Physical Limitation.”
The 22 other young awardees include Xiaoyu Harris, who was awarded for Social Conscience, Andre Tyrell for Spiritial Commitment, Jonelle Irish for leadership, Raynaldon Bartlette for Creativity and Innovation, Kimi-Lee Knight for Writing, Akeem Omah Huggins for Culinary Arts, Shaquille Gumbs for Commitment to Personal Excellence, Kyla Brown for Citizenship, Roger Bishop for Most Enterprising, Tehya Fleming for Dance, Jaleel Huggins for Young Entrepreneur: Agriculture.
Awardees also included Jeffvancia Matthew for Community Involvement, Dejour Alexander for Songwriting, Dennisia Clarke for Photography, Christian Nathaniel for Music, Wricherley Gumbs for Youth Activism, K’Shanta Reid for Campus Leadership, Sasha Herbert for Art, Kishona Pemberton for Fashion and Style, Warrren Hazel for Performing Artist, Nekhaila Tysonj for Most Promising Teen and Samuel Oyebefun for Scholar Athlete.
The 25 Most Remarkable Teen Programme was initiated in 2011 by Connie Howard, a Peace Corps Volunteer who was attached to the Department of Youth Empowerment. She modeled it after a programme which he instituted in California, USA.
The Department of Youth Empowerment is expected to coordinate the programme going forward. During a live, televised sitting of the St. Kitts and Nevis Parliament on the evening of November 14, the 25 young people were presented their awards by their Constituency Representatives who had nothing but praise for the upstanding citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis. Additionally, while last year’s inaugural event featured young people from St. Kitts, this year’s event included youth from both islands. The general public had been invited to nominate the teens and those that met specific criteria were chosen to receive the award.