Thirty (30) outstanding youth received awards in ten categories on Sunday, December 13, at the first virtual staging of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence. There were no awardees in the category of Environmental Protection and International Achievement this year. The Honourable Robert Nesta Morgan in his remarks as Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information committed to finding mechanisms to provide mentorship in the category of Environmental Protection for youth as this will be critical in the sustainability of many of our industries.
The category of Innovation in Science and Technology showed the depth of scientific prowess and sense of purpose of Jamaican Youth. Yekini Wallen-Bryan, the owner of PreeLabs Limited, with the use of 3D printing, distributed over 2000 face shields and provided testing booths and over 5000 sewn masks and hydrophobic gowns to the Health Care Sector as a response to COVID-19 was an Awardee. He along with Software Engineer, Joel Dean, who is recognized for developing the code for an application which helped the World Health Organization in the fight against Ebola in the Republic of Congo and Rayvon Stewart, who has developed an invention called Xermasol that is currently being used in Jamaica in the fight against Covid-19 were among the stand outs for the night.
The category of Sport and Arts and Culture had a number of awardees who were represented in disciplines that were featured for the first time. This included, long jump World Champion Tajay Gayle, BodyBuilding Champion Dwayne Walker and Jamaica’s second International Woman Chess Master, Rachel Miller along with International Taekwnndo third degree black belt champion Richard Stone were the Awardees in the category of Sport.
The awardees in the category of Arts and Culture Category represented the fields of music with Producer, Waldane Hampton, Theatre with Akeem Mignott, Visual Art with Richard Natoo and Deon Green and Film with Saaed Thomas.
The influence of a renewed interest from youth in the Agricultural Industry was seen in the categories of Entrepreneurship and Agriculture. Two young farmers from Manchester, Citerina Atkins, (an Agro-Processor) and LaFrance Gayle (a Lifestock Farmer) who both have been providing jobs for their respective community members, products for the export market and knowledge exchange for aspiring young farmers were awarded in the category of Agriculture. Honey, Pimento and Chocolate Manufacturer, Oran Davidson is the only awardee in the category of Entrepreneurship.
Multi-Care Youth Foundation and Youth Inspiring Positive Jamaica (YIPCJ) were the two Awardees in the category of Youth Development. The category of Academics had three Awardees: Ren-Neasha Blake, Daren Watson and Latonya Clayton.
Journalists, Jevaughn keyes, Kristeena Monteith and Brithny Clarke were awarded in the Journalism Category. The category of Nation Building is the newest category in the awards. It was included in the ceremony in 2017. The three new awardees in the category are: Ashli-Ann Broughton Jackson, Aneita Beckford and Abi-Gaye Smythe.
The category that closed the show featured the youth who are expected to rise to leadership roles within the country. There were four awardees in the category of leadership: Rhody-Ann Thorpe, Everton Rattray, Teadra Morris and Julian Morrison.
Introduced in 1998, the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence was conceptualized to recognize young Jamaicans between the ages of 15- 29 who have excelled and contributed to national development in various areas. Since its inception, over 300 awards have been conferred. This year’s ceremony marks the culmination of the annual Youth Month celebrations, themed “Youth: Resilient Through Entrepreneurship, Training, Hope Innovation, Networking and Knowledge (RETHINK).”