Life as a Respect Jamaica Youth Ambassador

Life as a Respect Jamaica Youth Ambassador
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Respect: Due regard for feelings, wishes or rights of others. That is how the Oxford Dictionary denotes this exemplary word. I term the word exemplary as a result of this profound meaning and what this word means to me. Growing up, I craved respect from others but hardly received it. I was bullied and teased for the simplest of matters. I was different and had possessed qualities that were amazing. It seemed as though I was being punished for being talented in academics and having a sense of individuality. How ironic! It still continues whenever I enter a classroom setting but I have built a mental brace. I ignore the taunts and degrading remarks.

In June 2015, shortly after leaving high school, I learnt about the Respect Jamaica Youth Ambassador Programme. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to reach out to individuals and communities that were being marginalized and discriminated against. In remembering my experiences, I wanted to stand for those were being bullied or isolated for various reasons. It also made way for me to teach the values of Respect Jamaica to many through the medium of Social Media. I became a Respect Jamaica Youth Ambassador and started duties with 23 others.
Respect Jamaica is a multi-corporate initiative aimed at promoting the value of showing respect to all people. This values and attitudes programme also aims to tackle discrimination related to colour, race, class, sexual orientation, those with special needs, the youth and elderly, as well as gender, religion, politics and supporting environmental conservation. By extension, the Youth Ambassador Programme seeks to foster a collaborative network that enables young Jamaicans to actively participate in social activism and advocacy.
As a Youth Ambassador, I have been exposed to the social conditions and attitudes implicating the development of Jamaica such as anger and resentment, which often plays out in violence and oppression. However, in being exposed to these chronic issues, my hope is that Jamaica will be rid of discrimination has not and will not be changed. Sure, I understand that fear-based thinking will always be an endemic response to human diversity; but I am adamant that we can recognize our differences in a way that cultivates compassion, peace and authenticity.
The idea of respect is a value that I live by: I say good morning, please and thank you; I try to avail myself to help others when they are in need. I hold open a door for the person coming behind me because the little things matter as much as the big things do. I use my talent of public speaking to advocate for the individuals who cannot speak for themselves and also speaking out against injustices.
My fellow ambassadors and I stand up for human rights and justice for all. We advocate through the different mediums that are available to us. Our pages on social media buzz with our opinions on social issues. We try assiduously to have our dreams of cohesion for this country manifest in the daily lives of Jamaica. There is difference about this group of young individuals. We value the fact that as the upcoming generation, we have a responsibility to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

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