Shouts of “MAN DEH YAH” filled the Talk of Town Conference Room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Thursday, November 19. The occasion was a forum created to celebrate International Men’s Day, which was hosted by the Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA) in partnership with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network. By the end of the forum, men themselves became the talk of the town.
“A Man’s Health is a Man’s Wealth: Men and Healthy Lifestyle Practices during the Pandemic” was the day’s theme. The objectives included:
- Raising awareness about men’s health and wellbeing and
- Recognizing and celebrating the contribution of positive male role models to our society.
The forum was not short of positive energy as Master of Ceremonies, Mr Otis Hamilton engaged attendees with his antics. Despite being in masks and maintaining social distance, the excitement in the room was evident as smiles could be seen through the participants’ eyes. To ensure that the “vibes” meter never fell, each speaker gave short and spicy remarks.
International Men’s Day 19 Push-ups Challenge
Before the event, the BGA challenged men across Jamaica to participate in a 19 Push-ups Challenge. The number nineteen coincided with the date of International Men’s Day (November 19). The Push-Up Challenge reiterated the importance of incorporating healthy lifestyle practices into a man’s life. Fortunately, the challenge was well supported on social media as several men, including notable politicians, celebrities and community leaders showed their support by videoing themselves and challenging others to participate. Vying for the alpha male title, all the competitors completed their 19 and added “brawta” (a little extra):
The Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Minister of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport (MCGES), delivered the keynote speech. She applauded the men for playing their roles in society by being role models and great men. The Minister also expressed her gratitude to the males and admitted that Jamaica will be in the best hands with more of their calibre. She reassured them of her continued commitment to serving the men of Jamaica:
She charged the men and boys who were in attendance to continue to lead by examples and to get their check-ups regularly:
Outstanding Fathers Awards 2020
Minister Grange also presented the awards to the 2020 “Outstanding Fathers”. The awards were given to “hand-picked men” who have proven themselves to be devoted fathers and nation builders. All the awardees represent all the greatness that accompanies being a father who stays and helps the family figure things out. A wide cross-section of men was awarded for being Outstanding Fathers and being role models.
“A real yute”, “Mi rate dah man yah”, “Is a different type a man dis” were comments heard around the room after Mr Dwayne Extol’s gift to the room. Mr Extol spoke from his heart. He shared his testimony of what his life could’ve been versus what it is now. The Wolmerian took the audience on a journey of his troubled childhood to the mentor he is now. “I am who I am today because of the positive mentors that I’ve had over the years.”
“Broken men break society!” Dwayne urged the stakeholders and the attendees present that more needs to be done. He reminded that a mere 24 hours each year can never be enough to help our nations young men:
Inspiring, thought-provoking and motivational are some of the words that best describe the forum. The level of enthusiasm of the participants and gratitude of the speakers were excellent. Also, I appreciated their positive attitudes, willingness to share information from statistics and studies, clarity of visual aids and handouts, and opportunities to socialize. Just like the attendees, I too hope that more will be done to impact the men of our nation. Men should be celebrated every day; not just on November 19.