(Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, Jada Loutoo, 5.Aug.2018) – Some 25 students from across the south-eastern community of Mayaro are set to benefit from a revolutionary new developmental programme sponsored by energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago.
Entitiled “Life-Skills, Entrepreneurship and Problem-Solving (LEAP)”, the two-week programme was launched at the Mayaro Resource Centre on Thursday. Developed by Mayaro-based Business Clinic, it focuses on students between the ages of 12 and 16 and has engaged local non-governmental organisations such as Global Villages, as well as consulted with various community leaders, educators, parents and other stakeholders to ensure success and tangible benefits to the students.
Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility Manager, BPTT, gave an overview of the initiative: “BPTT has always been progressive in terms of supporting youth-based development initiatives. This programme is revolutionary and does not fit the mould of the usual ‘vacation camp’. LEAP is seeking to empower young people with entrepreneurial skills, within the direct context of understanding and embracing their roles as future community leaders. At the end of this workshop, we hope to have a cadre of creative problem solvers who embrace leadership roles that encompass the development of Mayaro and the nation as a whole.”
Featured activities in the LEAP workshop will include vision setting, conflict resolution techniques and group discussions on viable and emerging business ideas. The participants will also be engaged in field trips that will encourage them to assess their spaces and communities in order to increase their awareness, expand their ability to deal with dynamic situations and build positive leadership qualities.
As Sherese Chee Mook, one of the LEAP-leaders, explained, “Through practical workshops, creative learning activities, field trips and other activities, we intend to sharpen the participants’ self-awareness. This will serve to connect them with opportunities to assess their natural and physical environment, problem solve and think beyond conventional solutions. LEAP goes to a level where we as a community are becoming masters of our own destiny, and as such, we are empowering our young leaders to take us to a better future.”
The launch was well attended by parents, teachers, local entrepreneurs, and other community stakeholders, including Member of Parliament for Mayaro, Rushton Paray, who pledged his full support for the initiative.
“Let me first recognise the role of BPTT in terms of investing in and supporting initiatives that build up and hold our community together. This is yet another example of their vision for a better Mayaro and it’s good to see so many young people leading this initiative and taking ownership of the future. The perspective of taking the problems affecting our communities and applying entrepreneurial solutions is innovative and worthy of support. If there is anything that I can assist with, I am willing to be a part of this programme that will see Mayaro ‘LEAP’ ahead,” Paray explained.
In recognition of individualism, LEAP was designed to accommodate multiple learning styles to encourage participants’ understanding and maintain their engagement. Following the official launch which served to sensitise parents and other stakeholders about the purpose and structure of the programme, there were smaller one-on-one sessions with the LEAP team that facilitated direct answers and clarification on the initiative.
Lisa Mahabir, mother of 13-year old Guayaguayare Secondary School student, Emily, was enthusiastic about the programme, “This is an excellent initiative and in fact, after today I want to volunteer and help in any way that I can. This is focused on taking charge and heping young people to see and approach things differently so that they can create new opportunities to help build a new Mayaro and a stronger Trinidad and Tobago.”
Emily was also very keen about the opportunity, “My mom always supports me in anything that I want to do to be a better student and a better person overall and that’s why we are here today. I have always dreamt of being a chef and I think that LEAP will give me more ideas on how I can achieve this dream, while also making Mayaro a better place for everyone. I really can’t wait to be a part of this wonderful learning experience and I want to be a role model and leader who makes the world a better place.”