Meaningful volunteerism and youth participation to educate youngsters in Jamaica

Meaningful volunteerism and youth participation to educate youngsters in Jamaica

Editor’s note: Clayton Bolton submitted his following personal story to Global Young Voices. You too can submit yours to us here.

My name is Clayton Bolton and I am a Police Officer by profession. I’m also an integrity ambassador, a climate change action agent, a government official by virtue of employment and a Student at the University of the West Indies, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Political Sciences. I am very passionate about education and youth development, as a consequence of which I have become a motivational speaker and a peer educator. Through the years, all of this has taught me to understand the powerful combination of education and discipline.

Despite having a professional career, I still manage to make time for volunteering. In fact, I currently am a volunteer at the Jamaica Intensive Reading Clinic, that aims at eradicating illiteracy among our nation’s children, and at Shashamane Sunrise, which is a volunteer network in Africa and developing countries. Both initiatives focus on making a difference through education and meaningful volunteerism. I really enjoy experiencing educational authenticity and I find it incredibly satisfying to make the people around me feel empowered in achieving their dreams.

I got so inspired by this experience, that I decided to embark on my own initiative: the YOUNG & Brilliant Initiative is a youth led project dedicated to educational causes and enhancing the educating space for the benefit of our nation’s young people, through meaningful and quality experiences that will inspire, educate and motivate. We visit schools at various levels and students are presented with different issues and topics, through presentations that are always age appropriate. For the younger kids, reading has proved to be the most productive way of learning. Generally speaking, the main effort is to reinforce education’s basic principles, but we also dedicate attention to other topics, such as self-esteem, career advancement, goals, ambition, sexual offences, conflict mediation, healthy masculinity, critical thinking, stress management, children’s care and protection and social media. Education and personal development are both of great importance to this initiative.

 Credit: Clayton Bolton

Credit: Clayton Bolton

The goal is to bring students together and provide them with inspiration and awareness. I believe that this effort has been very beneficial to the students, considering that the presentations have been handled by some very talented University students. This also provides them with an opportunity to enhance their public speaking skills and their oratory skills, which are two great competencies.

I believe that in order for the SDGs to be achieve, initiatives like this one must be taken up by competent and responsible people, considering that creative thinking and innovative actions are at the heart of development. I like to think that through my initiative children and young people become more informed and more competent critical thinkers. Actions such as mine may be small on their own, but when hundreds or thousands or even millions of us engage in projects like this, we can have a huge impact on the world. We just need to contribute in inspiring others to be make positive change in their own communities. Our goal now is to expand our influence as much as we can and possibly connect with international youth leaders who volunteer to the same educational causes. We are striving to become an initiative that will make a difference in education through meaningful volunteerism and youth participation.

Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV

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