By Christopher Tobutt
It was a historic landmark in Passport2Success’ history. Cohort 27, a group of nine special needs clients graduated side-by-side with Cohort 28, ten young people who are all young people between the ages of 15 and 17. After speeches from the course facilitators, and many positive reflections too on what the course, which is designed to prepare young adults with the skills they will need to be successful in the workplace, had meant to each participant, the graduation certificates, were presented. In addition, special awards and prizes were presented to those participants who had excelled in a particular area.
Cohort 27 awards were: Top Male, Darin Conolly; Top Female, Vanessa Williams; Most Improved: Kanza Bodden; Most Helpful: John White; Most Pleasant attitude: Arley Swaby; Best Dressed: Lee Ebanks; Fastest Worker: Matthew Javier; Most Independent: Jordan Scott (who had also got a job with the cinema) and Most Confident: Krysten Martin.
Cohort 28 awards were: Top Male: Julius Smith; Top Female: Keyona Hanson; Most Consistent: Ariella Jackson; Most Improved: Roberta Christian; Rising Star: Keanu McKenzie; Best Dressed: Dante Thompson; Most Pleasant Personality: Brente Bodden; Perfect Attendance: Marlon Bodden; Leadership Award: Jasmin Christian; and Most Resourceful: Catalinna Hernandez.
Michael Ebanks, Actiong Chief Officer, Ministry of Employment and Border Control, had a word to say about helping others find the fire of purpose in their lives: said “You are role models and ambassadors, undoubtedly, but are you ‘igniters?’ We all have a fire, whether it is lit yet or not…be an igniter of that fire in those around you. What good is it having a belly if there is no fire in it?”
Shannon Seymour, Director of the Wellness Centre spoke about the value of the 8-week course, and how it really helps young people gain employment. “We identify barriers to employment,” she said, “and try to understand the roots of those barriers” Ms Seymour described the way the course enables young people to explore areas where they can address issues, whether to do with workplace relationships, attitudes, or skill sets, which have the potential to hold them back. Exhorting employers to she said: “We can hire someone with a disability…yes we can!”
During the Reflections sessions, Julius Smith of Cohort 28 said: “We were helped to come out of our comfort-zone.”Matthew Javier, Kanza Bodden, Krysten Martin, John White, Keanu McKenzie, and Arley Swaby warmed everyone’s heart with a wonderful song: “How Far I’ll Go.” Catalinna Hernandez from Cohort 28 sang a song, too, entitled “The greatest love.”
Kanza Bodden of Cohort 27 gave plenty of thoughtful reflections, “thank you for the opportunity to learn so many new things…I will miss all my buddies,” she said. “Thank you for teaching me everything…Thank you all for coming here this afternoon. I hope you all have a lovely day.” But there was another treat in store too, as she sang the song, ‘This is me.’
Keyona Hanson of Cohort 28 said: “This summer I had a different mindset; to be successful, you have to go out and get it – it will not come to you.” There was only one regret about completing the 12-week programme: “I wish it was longer,” she said.