By Brithney Clarke
“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” –John F. Kennedy
What is an ordinary day for the Shashamane Sunrise family without children, smiles, and service?
On a Friday morning in May, I visited Windsor Forest Primary School in Portland, Jamaica with Shashamane Sunrise. It was Career Day and my introduction to volunteerism Shashamane style, led by the founding principal himself, Dr. Rene Zazou Williamson. It was my first time in Portland, and I found the beautiful scenery and good vibes to be well worth the distance. As the bus approached the small school, we were elated to see a group of young professionals patiently awaiting a day of pure excitement. We were greeted by a stampede of joyous volunteers clad in their most dapper attire—I was in for a treat.
The excitement increased with each activity as my team and I engaged the students in motivational talks and encouraged them to begin planning for their futures. I shared experiences of my own career path to media, communications, and marketing and my journey to achieve the titles of Miss AZ Preston Hall 2016 and Miss UWI Mona 2017. I was surprised and delighted to see careers including “executive chef,” “bank manager,” “football player,” and “entrepreneur” listed among their interests because it demonstrated a willingness break boundaries and explore non-traditional paths to success. The children were big dreamers. They reminded myself of the person whom I fondly refer to as “the child at heart.”
The most rewarding experiences were the talks we had with older children where we gave personal accounts of our childhood, career goals, and support systems. We also shared what influenced our courses of study. The students were receptive and attentive despite the summer heat. The cherry on top of a fantastic day was the fun and games! There were simultaneous dance sessions, drama sessions, and physical activity on the lawns. The children displayed their talents both inside and outside the classroom. They played football, volleyball, cricket and danced Tango with Miss Legacy Jamaica Stacy-Ann Nelson. The students definitely shined with (and outshined) the Shashamane Ambassadors.
“Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression.”
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. I was glad to have spent my morning with such promising students, and saying goodbye was the hardest part. It was a special day, and the thanks were endless. The final goodbye from the grade 6 teacher was most inspiring: she sung “God Made You Special” and thanked us for appreciating the work the teachers put in to ensure the best for their students.
But the day was not yet over. Our final destination was Winifred Beach for a Shash Social. This white sand beach off the coast of Portland was a site to behold. We kicked off the summer with beach bodies, coconut water, and some good saline H20. Volunteering is FUN!
I am truly grateful for the opportunities Shashamane Sunrise provides for volunteers like me to inspire change in the youth of Jamaica. Let us each make a lasting, positive impression as we mold our future leaders for success.
Brithney Clarke is Miss UWI Mona 2017 and a Shashamane Sunrise Youth Ambassador.