The annual initiative, which is coordinated by the Department of Youth Empowerment, recognizes the contribution of teenagers from across the federation who have excelled in various non-traditional fields and are making a positive contribution to uplift their community and the nation as a whole. Last night, each award was presented by parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle.
One of the more compelling moments of the night took place after the profile of Dillon Smithen was read. It told the tale of the 19-year-old who was once a juvenile delinquent. He had a short stint in prison and afterwards, as his profile reads, made a “Personal Decision to Change.”
“Dillon uses his life story to discourage peers from using drugs, stealing and joining gangs, and bullying,” his profile says.
Member of Parliament for Nevis #10, the Honourable Vance Amory presented the award to Smithen and said: “Those of us who know Dillon and know his history intimately will know that what we are seeing here tonight is special. I want to congratulate him and pray that he will continue to do well.”
Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Michael Perkins also made sure to offer his own congratulations. “This is unexpected, this is special, I believe, thus the importance of a ceremony like this,” he said.
Later, some members of the audience were moved to tears when Allese Clarke, 15, was recognized for School Pride. Ms. Clarke is a strong advocate in promoting the image of the Cayon High School (CHS) and actively rallies other students to be more active in this cause. The young lady has several leadership roles at school, including President of the Interact Club, Public Relations Officer for the Champions for Change Club, Vice President and Founding Member of the Geography and History Club, and Student Council Treasurer.
Ms. Clarke is also known for having a strong sense of patriotism, as mentioned by Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris who commended her before presenting the award for being one of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The patriotism, which you have displayed, not just in terms of the unconditional love and activism at your school, exudes everywhere. When we were last at your high school for the Independence 35 celebration, the one who shouted loudest was Allese Clarke,” he stated.
Dr. Harris also noted that the 15-year-old remains a positive force for change and praised Allese for caring for her younger siblings throughout the years after their mother died more than 10 years ago.
The other awardees were Kizivor Jeffers, Sharim Hamilton, and Carlon Bowen-Tuckett for Sports; Keneisha Liburd and Dannique Earle Wilson for Spiritual Commitment; Nia Belle and Nickhail Sutton for Volunteerism; Jelani Manners and Lemuel Chiverton for School Pride; Carl Caines for Community Beacon; Mikoya Collins for Fashion Design; Anique Ward for Visual Arts; Miguel Etiene for Courage to Overcome; Dolicia Barry for Scholastic Achievement through Pageantry; Aliah Vanterpool for Scholar Athlete; Shakeem Prentice and Jeremiah Welcome for Most Promising; Naeem Richardson for Writing; Cartel Forde for Spirit of Hope; Elkreem Morton for Musical Leadership; Khale Thomas for Academics; Zidane Knight for Performing Arts; and Lauren Lawrence for Youth Activism.