Lady Allen and I thank you for the warm welcome you have extended to us on our arrival in the parish of Trelawny.  It is a pleasure to be here to meet and greet the residents of the parish, as well as Members of Parliament, Justices of the Peace, civic leaders, business representatives, who have come out to participate in this function.

I would like to commend Custos Barrett for the significant work that he has been doing in the parish for the past 18 years.  Custos Barrett, you are an outstanding citizens of Trelawny.  You have served the parish with distinction during the tenure of successive Governors-General, Sir Howard Cooke and Professor Sir Kenneth Hall.  I wish you continued success, good health and prosperity as you prepare to retire from the position.

At my inauguration on February 26, I gave the people of Jamaica a commitment that I would visit and meet with them wherever they are in Jamaica.  Since then, Lady Allen and I have visited many parishes, schools, communities, churches and businesses across the island.  Today we are in Trelawny on this the tenth stop on my travel across the country.   We have not only come to meet with you, but we want to learn from you.  It is together, and with one voice, that we must seek solutions to realizing our nation’s vast potential.

Seizing the opportunities in Trelawny
Despite the challenges and setbacks I believe there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica, and that statement is applicable to Trelawny.  There are many opportunities for eco-tourism and heritage tourism, which can kick-start the economic recovery of the parish which has been affected by the decline of the sugar industry.

Trelawny is renowned for the Cockpit country which is an area of outstanding ecological and cultural significance to Jamaica.  The biodiversity of the Cockpit Country is of global significance, because it contains specially adapted plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.  Just imagine the benefits to be derived from extracting the medicinal and curative properties of plant species in the area in a way that is renewable and sustainable.

Moreover, Cockpit Country is the largest remaining primary wet limestone forest in Jamaica. It is also the home to what is possibly the only viable population of the globally endangered Giant Swallowtail butterfly.  Here is an opportunity for nature and heritage tourism, but it must be done in a way that is sustainable and does not adversely impact the natural beauty of the area.

Visitors to Jamaica would like to get into the hinterland and see the birds, trees and other aspects of Mother Nature that are unique to Jamaica.  They want to meet and greet the Jamaican people and learn about our culture, lifestyles and life experiences; and we should be prepared to tell them.

Trelawny’s significance to Jamaica
In the history of Jamaica, Trelawny is renowned as a major producer of sugar dating back to the colonial era.  Today, the parish is also growing in significance as the ‘yam parish’, due largely to Olympic sensation Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Michael Frater and others who, though they do may not hail from the parish, their outstanding performances in track and field, have brought renewed interest in the production of yam.

Their athletic success is living proof of what can be achieve through hard work and commitment.  The remarkable achievements of Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Melanie Walker, Shelly-Ann Fraser and other Jamaican athletes at the World Championships in Berlin did not happen overnight.  They were determined that they would not undermine their worth or ability to succeed by comparing themselves with others, neither did they give up especially when the going was tough.  They kept pressing on knowing that nothing is really over until you stop trying.

Our young people need to apply themselves, and believe that, like these athletes, they too will achieve their goals. They should be encouraged to try, try and try again, if at first they do not succeed.  The young people of Trelawny and the adults too, should not allow what their country men have achieved in track and field and others areas to fade away.  Rather, it should be a ‘teaching moment’ that ‘whatever the mind can conceive it will achieve.’  If you visualize success for yourselves, in whatever area, nothing can stop you. Go for it!

Mentor the youth
On February 26th I also spoke about mentoring the youth and engaging them as they mature, so they can seamlessly make that ‘right of passage’ into productive adulthood.

I have had the opportunity of meeting and conversing with young people about their dreams for themselves and their country. While they make me hopeful for the future of our island, I am concerned that they face many challenges and some lack proper guidance.  The breakdown of the family unit has resulted in many social problems and a breakaway from certain fundamental norms, values and principles such as:

  1. discipline,
  2. self-respect
  3. Respect for others
  4. Good manners

Today I encourage, the police, Justices of the Peace, teachers, pastors and parents to take care of the youth of Trelawny.  Continue to train them well and instill values of fairness, morality and justice within them.  As you travel across the parish and through the various communities, I encourage you to take time to involve the young people and engage them in conversations that will inspire and motivate them to achieve excellence.

A word to Councillors
Your Worship Councillor Colin Gager, Mayor of Falmouth and Councillors of the Trelawny Parish Council, you are placed in these positions by people who have invested their confidence in your ability to carry out the work entrusted to you with diligence and impartiality.  Do not disappoint them.  Guard your integrity carefully and ensure equitable balance in how you discharge your duties. Never allow the people to lose confidence in you.

Use the trust and confidence that the people have in you to motivate the residents of the parish as they seek way to overcome the challenges that confront them and build united, peaceful crime-free communities.  Visit them often and let them know you care. We are all in the struggle together.  You know the challenges the residents face in the various communities. Work with them to find workable solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we take our leave of you, I hope you will continue to keep hope alive and motivate yourselves and the people of Trelawny and especially the youth, to believe in themselves and in a brighter and better tomorrow for Jamaica.
May God bless you all.