Thirty (30) outstanding young people received awards in ten categories on Sunday, December 13, at the first virtual staging of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence.
No award was presented in the category of Environmental Protection or International Achievement this year.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Robert Nesta Morgan in his remarks committed to finding mechanisms to provide mentorship in Environmental Protection for youth as he emphasized this would be critical in the sustainability of many of Jamaica’s industries.
Among the stand outs for the night in the category of Innovation in Science and Technology was Yekini Wallen-Bryan, the owner of PreeLabs Limited, who 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.
Mr. Wallen-Bryan along with software engineer, Joel Dean, who was 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 also recognized in this category.
The category of Sport had a number of awardees who were represented in disciplines that were featured for the first time. They included long jump World Champion Tajay Gayle; bodybuilding champion Dwayne Walker and Jamaica’s second International Woman Chess Master, Rachel Miller along with International Taekwondo third degree black belt champion Richard Stone were the awardees in this category.
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 livestock 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 was the only awardee in the category of Entrepreneurship.
The 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.
Javaughn Keyes, Kristeena Monteith and Brithney Clarke were awarded in the Journalism Category while three persons were awarded in the category of Nation Building - 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.
The Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence was introduced in 1998 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 marked the culmination of the annual Youth Month celebrations, themed “Youth: Resilient Through Entrepreneurship, Training, Hope Innovation, Networking and Knowledge (RETHINK).”