Members of the Federal Parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis met for a special sitting on Thursday evening to pay tribute to the 2019 class of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens, the ninth annual staging of the award ceremony organized by the Department of Youth Empowerment.
Awards are presented to persons 12-19 years of age who have excelled in traditional and non-traditional fields. Some of the areas include Music, Academics, Dance, Scholar Athlete, Courage to Overcome, Visual Arts, Spiritual Commitment, Entrepreneurship, Volunteerism, Personal Decision to Change.
This year’s awardees are:
- Colin Norford Jr.- Music
- Abigail O’Flaherty – Scholar Athlete
- Ta-jaroh Stapleton – Academics
- Shanelly Hinds – Courage to Overcome and Dance
- Chinue Bradshaw – Academics
- Anya Seetahal – Dance
- Gabrielle Myers – Academics and Courage to Overcome
- Shanté Anslyn – Visual Arts
- Keneah Romney – Scholar Athlete
- Khalique Martin – Photography
- Johnisha Rawlins – Academics and Spiritual Commitment
- Jeriella Liburd – Courage to Overcome
- Aushaun Brown – Academics
- Alesha Kelly – Scholar Athlete and Patriotism
- Bionca Berry – Environmental Science
- Christi-Anne Mills – Scholar Athlete and Sports
- Arljanique Ward – Spiritual Commitment
- Zwena Jones – Entrepreneurship
- Tiquanny Williams – Sports
- Curjé Stevens – Personal Decision to Change
- Tyquan Rogers – Sports
- Zedan Clarke – Sports and Performing Arts
- Dahlia Slack – Academics
- Hailey Morris – Music
- Safin Connor – Academics and Leadership
“The pursuit of [a] life of service will be beneficial for not only you but to our nation. Your efforts are therefore much welcomed and encouraged as we endeavour to be responsible global citizens to which all of you serve as exemplars to inspire your peers and others,” Governor-General, His Excellency Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton, said in a congratulatory message that was read by the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Michael Perkins.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth, the Honourable Shawn Richards expressed similar sentiments as he addressed the packed National Assembly Chambers.
“This evening is an affirmation that the young people of St. Kitts and Nevis have answered the call to service and are poised to enter adulthood with a great sense of accomplishment and purpose,” he said. “Tonight, I am, therefore, honoured to celebrate these remarkable young individuals for taking the road less travelled and for standing out when it was so much easier to stand down.”
“Mr. Speaker, I must admit, however, that what’s most remarkable about the teens whom we are here to celebrate is that many of them rose from the ashes of dire circumstances and surmounted varying degrees of personal difficulties to achieve this recognition,” he added. “This, in all appearances, is an indication of their innate ability to harness their inner motivation and outward means to propel life forward in purposeful directions. Undeniably, it is a testament to the skills, ambition, autonomy, commitment, resolve and resilience of our nation’s youth.”
After Minister Richard’s address, a summary of the profiles of each of the 25 Most Remarkable Teen was read in the National Assembly. The award was then presented to the teens by a Member of Parliament.
Personal Struggles and Successes Inspire Nation During Ceremony
At age 14, Colin Norford Jr. of the Basseterre High School was the youngest person to be recognized as one of this year’s 25 Most Remarkable Teens in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Norford was honoured in the category of Music —he plays the acoustic guitar, saxophone and drums — and was presented the award by the prime minister during the special sitting of the Federal Parliament.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling,” Norford said after receiving his award, noting he didn’t expect his talents to be recognized at such a young age but suspects there is a greater plan in the works.“I play my music for God because I always put God first in life.”
Nineteen-year-old Jeriella Liburd of the Nevis Sixth Form College was awarded in the category Courage to Overcome. Her profile notes that she is a top student, who suffers from severe depression. Like many her age, she suffered in silence. This only made matters worse leading to occasions where she would harm herself.
Jeriella eventually found the courage to share her ordeal with loved ones and is getting the help and support that are needed. She confessed mixed feelings about sharing her story publicly.
“Now everyone is going to know, and I feel a bit shy,” she said. However, she embraced the positive impact that this may have. “It will make others aware that mental health is a growing problem in the Caribbean, so I am honoured to be one of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens.”
Curjé Stevens of the Saddlers Secondary School also showed great potential in school but succumbed to peer pressure. This led to drug use and other antisocial activities. In Dec. 2018, Curjé made a Personal Decision to Change and rebranded himself. Now the 17-year-old is a respected leader in his school and is finding success in the classroom and in sports. However, he still looks back on his choices of the past.
“To be honest, I don’t think that I would have [graduated] with the 11 subjects that I have today and would not have been in the CFBC (Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College),” he said.
While looking to the future, Curjé said that he will keep trying to convince his peers to join him in leading a positive lifestyle.
Sixteen-year-old Zwena Jones of the Gingerland Secondary School is also anticipating a bright future. The young lady was awarded last evening for Entrepreneurship and Volunteerism. She is making a mark in Nevis through fashion. She makes clothing, primarily using African print and is currently developing a children’s line. Persons watching the 25 Most Remarkable Teens ceremony learnt that Zwena designed and made the dress she was wearing.
“I would like to go to a sewing school so that I can learn more about fashion designing,” she said, adding that when successful, she intends to return to St. Kitts and Nevis to teach and mentor promising designers.
The profiles of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens are posted on the St. Kitts Department of Youth Empowerment’s Facebook Page.