Good afternoon to you all. First let me congratulate the top achievers in the media who will shortly be given awards this afternoon. I am encouraged by this act of collegiality from the Advertising Agencies Association of Jamaica towards the members of the Media Association of Jamaica. When such influential bodies as yourselves affirm each other, the country is inspired by your example of solidarity.
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to address what I regard as two very powerful groups: the shapers of mass messages and the creators of enduring images. Jamaica’s media houses are equal to our schools and Churches as the most influential groups in our country. The Advertising Agencies use their creativity to promote the wide variety of products and services available in our country.
Yours is a symbiotic relationship and we can be proud that both our media and advertising outputs are of high quality and high ethics. I was therefore pleased that I was invited to share with you the mission of the ‘I Believe Initiative,’ and ask that you join us in this nation-building effort.
The ‘IBelieve’ Vision embodies the ideal of a Jamaica in which individuals are inspired to believe in and actualize their full potential, as well as contribute to the building of a prosperous, progressive, and peaceful nation.
Through strategic partnerships, programmes and the belief and support of Jamaicans, the I Believe Initiative of Jamaica will lead a campaign to inspire and motivate our people to believe in their God-given potential and to contribute to building a prosperous and peaceful nation.
This initiative started with the words of my Inaugural address as Governor- General. Suddenly I heard children from various schools using the words as part of their choral pieces. The JIS in collaboration with the Mona Preparatory School actually made video using elements of this speech. This tells me that Jamaicans, and in particular young Jamaicans, want to build faith and confidence in their country.
I heartily commend the media and advertising fraternities for the excellent part you have been playing in creating and sponsoring programmes of affirmation, long before I gave that speech. We have grown up on The Gleaner’s National Spelling Bee and TVJ’s School’s Challenge Quiz. We have been inspired by the Observer’s Examination Study Guide, the Business Leader Awards and the RJR Group’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards et. al.
Through print and broadcast here and on the internet, you have riveted the Jamaican public and impressed the global community. Not to be left out, the outdoor advertising fraternity has sponsored billboards and signs for many charitable causes and community-building messages. Jamaica’s print houses are famous for the pro-bono work they do for various causes and our magazines showcase Jamaica on coffee tables all over the world. I commend you all for the tremendous contribution you have been making to nation building.
Our advertisements whether on billboards, food packages, newspapers and television ads are now presented in a way that symbolises our country’s motto, “Out of Many One People.” Through your choice of talent, you instill pride in our motto as you reflect the diversity of our people. I commend you all for the tremendous contribution you have been making to nation building.
In the early 1920’s and 1930’s when Marcus Garvey traveled throughout the Caribbean, North America and Europe there were no televisions or computers; the radio was a fairly recent development, but the newspaper preceded all of the aforementioned. Even in these modern times, the wisdom Garvey shared with us in 1919 remains true: “we need crusaders in journalism who will not seek to enrich themselves of crime and ignorance … (but will promote) racial pride, self-respect, love and integrity” (pg.119 – ‘Marcus Garvey Said’).
As you continue your fine tradition of national upliftment, I am seeking your partnership in the ‘I Believe Initiative.’ Advertising Agencies partner with Jamaica’s corporate giants who are the very engine of the country’s economic growth. Media houses help to shape the opinions and self-image of our fellow Jamaicans. Your partnership is crucial to the IBI, which focuses on self-actualization, particularly for our troubled youth, who are vulnerable to abuse and easy recruitment into criminal gangs.
As we face yet another wave of graduates surging into the job market, we all have to consider how we will accommodate them in the already tight employment environment. We have heard from researchers that our education system needs to adjust itself to make graduates more employable. The challenge presented to the media is the finding of ways to help these young people to better equip themselves for gainful employment. This is something the media must consider carefully and thoughtfully. You have that ‘duty of care in Jamaica.’
The IBI’S focus is on Access and Respect
We believe that providing young people, and others, with access to education outside the formal setting is important in this technology-driven age. Therefore, a major project is the establishment of WiFi centres. We have identified three (3) such areas and our telecom partners will be providing the services in these communities, Port Maria, Mandeville and Downtown Kingston.
Through the Halls of Learning online mentoring programme, and other online educational programmes, we will direct learners to these kinds of programmes for both the enrichment and the attainment of their educational objectives. In this and other small ways, the IBI will be doing its part to ensure that Jamaica achieves one of the Millennium Development Goals – to reduce illiteracy and increase the level of primary education.
As media, you have popular websites and representatives across Jamaica. I invite you to partner with us to give practical tips to job-seekers not only on how to write resumes and attend interviews but on basic productivity guidelines that will help them to keep the job and develop careers.
However, education cannot be limited to the 3R’s, but must also be under-girded by a 4th R – Respect. Through the images you project, you can help our young people build greater respect for themselves and others. We are appealing to those of us who have been privileged to have a respectful home environment and I also encourage those of you who are employers, to show some patience and compassion with new recruits.
One boss related that a new recruit proceeded to conduct a personal and lengthy cellphone call in her presence. Her first impulse was to dismiss the young lady. However, the employer said she was glad she gave the young woman a chance and instead of dismissal corrected the previous mistake. This particular recruit ended up being a valued employee. One thing I can tell you, employees will always appreciate such acts of understanding. As the saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
Focus -Mentorship and Conversations
In the area of Youth activities, the IBIwants to continue the conversations begun in 2009, and which were first organized by the Governor-General’s Achievement Award Programme. This year, the IBI will facilitate three (3) County Youth Consultative Conferences, and a National Convention where young people can air their views on topical issues, and we can hear their concerns and solutions. If we give them a piece of the cake they may stay for supper! Our Custodes have been critical to the success of the programme in the past, and they will continue to be IBI Ambassadors.
Mentorshipis a tried and proven way to help young people to develop good values and attitudes. Through the IBI website, I will present a message each month especially for the youth. The IBI is also branding and partnering with existing programmes for online mentoring. We are asking our media partners to carry links to our IBI website so that the messages present can have the widest possible impact on our youth. I would like to hear morning hosts like Ron Muschett, Alan Magnus, Emily Crooks, translating these into their own compelling styles to help their fellow Jamaicans start the day right. I applaud the work of the Observer’s Teenage and the Gleaner’s Youthlink magazines – we need you firmly on board!
Focus – Parenting and Counseling
The family is potentially the most powerful agent for political, economic, cultural and social change. As the foundation of society, it is also an important vehicle for the care, protection and development of its members and stability of the nation. ‘I believe in healthy families’ – not just physical health, but in healthy family relations and attitudes. Parenting skills and counseling opportunities are often inadequate in many families, and we have commitments to partner with organizations and media programmes which are dedicated to providing these services.
Advertising Agencies, I applaud the recent Fathers’ Day and Mothers’ Day ads that you published celebrating the importance of these pillars of our society. I commend the media houses for your various competitions in which readers, viewers and listeners shared their positive stories on the great parents they were blessed with. Such activities inspire others to be better fathers and mothers, to nurture the solid families which are the bedrock of our nation.
These are some of the initiatives that we wish to pursue. We have already contacted and engaged the commitment of several persons, programmes, the media, and organizations to assist in making this a relevant and dynamic initiative. With your support, we can re-ignite hope in our nation by instilling confidence in our young people. We can help to restore the values through strong family, peer and educational structures.
The responsibility we have to our youth cannot be overstated and “The “I Believe Initiative” is offering a means through which corporate Jamaica, “can promote and assist what is right with Jamaica to fix what is wrong with Jamaica.”
I believethat, as our National Pledge reminds us, you here are richly blessed with “love and loyalty of heart, wisdom and courage of mind, strength and vigour of body” to give well-needed service to our fellow citizens. You are one of the most significant shapers of the future – I ask you to join the I Believe Initiative to make this future as bright as it can possibly be.
Thank You and May God Bless You All.