Leave the Corners, Put Down the Guns - CSJP Valedictorian

Success Stories

 

Leave the Corners, Put Down the Guns - CSJP Valedictorian 

July 2, 2009, YMCA, Old Hope Road

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen all protocols are observed

My name is name is Orlando Hamilton, I am a resident of the Kencot Community.  Firstly, I would like to extend a heart full of gratitude on behalf of my fellow graduates and myself to the Citizen Security and Justice Programme  (CSJP) and the Kingston YMCA  for the opportunity of giving us a another chance, for some it is the first, others the second and even last, but we have made it.

Secondly, I would like to thank my Teachers, the Welding Instructors, Life Skills advisor, Counselors, Programme Coordinator, the staff at the Kingston YMCA and Mrs. Delapenha for this opportunity.

I've been attending the CSJP/YMCA for the past year and it has been a rewarding experience for me. When I first came to the YMCA, I was introduced to the coordinator Mr. Goodison who told me that it was too late for me to attend the classes and he was serious.   I was a little discouraged, but my friends convinced him to call Mrs. Delapenha.  Thank God for those persons who are always there for you when your back is against the wall.  Mrs. Delapenha called Mr. Goodison and told him to enroll me in the programme. I just want to say, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without a loss.”  From there on I became a student of the CSJP/YMCA programme which turned out to be successful.

While enrolled in the programme there were a lot of obstacles to overcome, there were ups and downs, good and bad for each and everyone of us who attended.  There were a lot of disagreements between the students because each individual had there own opinion and wanted to voice it, but through it all we overcome.  Some participants dropped out of the programme, two students were expelled from the programme for inflicting wounds on fellow students but even after that incident we got along fine.  It took a lot of effort to survive in a class with so many individuals from different communities and backgrounds. Trust me Mrs. Delapenha had patience, it was difficult at times to control the participants, but she believed in us, to make that change possible.

Sometimes it was very frustrating for us; in some instances we became tired of the classroom. However, the CSJP/YMCA staff was always there to encourage us.  We had practical’s coming up and assessments and there were no materials there to work with.  Most of us didn't even know how to weld, so this was a great set-back for us, but even so none of the students didn't even give up.  We waited out until the materials were supplied to us so we could start our projects. That’s why I say again, “success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss.” A big thank you to Mr. Chin, one of the Welding Instructors who invited some of the participants to the Denham Town High School, where they were exposed to additional welding equipment and practical on several occasion.

In closing I must take time out to say thank you for the stipend, we made good use of it. We thank the staff of the tuck shop who credit us snacks on several occasion when the stipend was late. To the CSJP/YMCA staff, the programme was indeed a success, Thank you for coming out into our communities; we appreciate the skill you taught us. For some we improved on our entrepreneurial skills and welding techniques. For those of us who have moved on to Level II at Operation Friendship I salute you, others who will be joining us to do Level II or to participate in the Reading Programme, let us give God thanks, we have made it.

However, graduates, let us pause for a moment and remember Maurice Mills and Kemar Mairs who were killed by the guns in reprisals through gang warfare in the Allman Town Community, let us stand take a minute to reflect on the good times we spend together, Maurice was a disciplinarian, “the ras”, yes he was the father and leader of the group, he wanted to succeed, but he was cut short. Fellow graduates, we have given the opportunity to be agents of change. Let us believe in ourselves, our communities and continue to light the torch of CSJP.

The programme  was a success,  fellow graduates,  this I  say to you “I hope your dreams take you... to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known."

Now graduates stand tall  and give your self a clap and go forth, find  your dreams,  because "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Share your dreams with others on the corners, help them to walk out of the gangs, leave the corners, put down the guns and remind them that change is possible.  Walk good...