The scholarships, totalling over $350,000, were handed over at parent company Wisynco’s headquarters in Lakes Pen, St Catherine in an emotional ceremony.
CranWATA joined the Talk Up Yout team as associate sponsor last year, as the world-acclaimed programme recently celebrated its fifth season on Television Jamaica.
High school twin sisters Zaria and Daria Grant; 21-y-o International Relations student at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Romario Sterling; Glenmuir High student Teresa Barnett; Charlie Smith High student Shashain Williams; prospective Edna Manley College freshman Oshane Williams; and Genesis Academy prodigy Shadae Parchment – were all smiles and sometimes tears as they recalled their experiences for the audience at the event.
In his address, Chairman of the Wisynco Group, William Mahfood explained that CranWATA is just one brand but the group is very happy to be on board.
“When I listen today to these young people, it gives me great hope for Jamaica. For a country that has had so many challenges, platforms [such as] Talk Up Yout are critical for the development of our people,” he said.
“We’re very happy to be on board with Talk Up Yout, we’re happy to participate in these scholarships, and hopefully we can find a way to give even more. CranWATA is just one brand but we do a lot through many of our other brands, and I think it’s important that we continue,” Mahfood added.
“Listening to these stories is testament enough to the need for more of corporate Jamaica getting involved and I look forward to many more stories [like these] in the future,” he noted.
But for founder and co-producer of the hit programme, Emprezz Golding, the demand and scope for Talk Up Yout is phenomenal – as vast, she says – as the issues young Jamaicans face.
“Talk Up Yout has brought me to tears many nights over the fact that our youth trust no one, [they] feel there’s no hope and that’s a very terrible place to be in. [Talk Up Yout] also brings me joy when someone is healed, inspired, motivated, and given this platform to express and find their reason to live and their talent,” she reckoned.
“As much as we see Jamaica as the place we want to live in 2030; what I see in the hundreds of thousands of youth that I engage, is a sense of hopelessness,” she added.
However in spite of this, Emprezz noted that all may not be lost as the programme – started in 2010 – covers and seeks to address several of those issues including: rape, abuse, metal health issues, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, child labour, human trafficking, peer pressure as well as the shortfalls of education and employment, among others.
“We’ve gotten some paedophiles locked up, we’ve quietly sent many young people to school, everyone who appears on Talk Up Yout is paid and from the comments, the emails, even the research that we have conducted, it has shown us that we haven’t just changed one life, but thousands,” Emprezz asserted.
Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna lauded Talk Up Yout and related outreach programmes for their tremendous work for the future of Jamaica.
In her speech, Minister Hanna said that what she saw was further justification that Jamaican young people are among the best in the world.
“[Young Jamaicans] have a talent, a courage that supersedes any obstacle or adversity known anywhere else. That is a part of your DNA,” Hanna exclaimed, while she imparted critical advice to the scholars as they encounter another phase of their life journey.
“As you leave with this scholarship, the person that you walked into this room as today, is not the same person you’re going to walk out with when you leave here. You have to make sure that any red flag that you have in your mind about preventing yourself going forward, you leave all of that in here. You will hinder how you propel yourself in moving forward,” Hanna continued.
“All of you are destined to be great. There’s a reason God blessed you the way he has – so that your light can shine even brightly when you walk amongst anyone in the world. You have a story that is inspiring, hopeful and courageous. Go and tell it,” she said.