Good Afternoon!

Welcome to King’s House for the official launch of the “I Believe” Initiative’s “Summer of Service” competition for Upper Sixth Formers and first year University students.

It might already have struck you that the acronym for this competition is SOS and though not by design, but rather by happy coincidence, this competition could become a life saver to many.   At the heart of the concept for this SOS competition is my belief that the majority of our young people want to play a part in improving our country.  They want to find ways in which they can use their time and talent to enhance the quality of life for Jamaicans, especially the most vulnerable.  They share my belief that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.

The SOS competition therefore challenges students to be part of what is right with Jamaica by volunteering this summer with charitable or Non-Governmental Organizations. Although only six prizes will be offered, every contestant will be a winner through the satisfaction they will gain from having positively impacted on the lives of others through their Summer of Service.  It is also our hope that the competition will not only increase the act of volunteerism for the competition’s duration, but also establish a growing cadre of young volunteers not only for contribution  to the enhancement of our society, but also because of the positive impact of volunteerism on character building.

The Summer of Service competition is open to final year CAPE students, students with Associate Degrees and first year university students who wish to pursue a Bachelor degree, either in Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.   These individuals will dedicate two and a half months of their summer holidays to a Non-Governmental Organization or create their own charitable project. Their report on the selected summer project, supported by the certification from the designated Supervisor, will be the basis on which their entry will be judged.  Participants will vie for six prizes inclusive of university tuition scholarships, and grants for educational or research material.  The duration of the SOS competition is from June 1 to August 16, with the deadline for the submission of entries being August 19, 2013.

Similar to all “l Believe” Initiative Projects, this competition would not have been possible without the continued support and dedication of our Partners. I am deeply grateful to:

  • The University of the West Indies who has sponsored the two (2) First Prizes of Tuition Scholarships for the three-year undergraduate degree programme plus stipends for the students’ maintenance costs.
  • The Northern Caribbean University which has sponsored one second prize of a one – year Tuition Scholarship
  • The University of Technology which has sponsored the other second prize of a one-year Tuition Scholarship
  • The Kingston Bookshop, for an educational materials grant valued at fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). This will be one of the two third prizes.
  • The second $50,000 grant is a direct contribution of the IBI.

I am particularly grateful to the Service Clubs, Religious, Community and Non-Governmental Organizations who have also partnered with us for this competition. These organizations have accepted the charge to host, support, mentor and supervise the volunteers within their organizations for the duration of the competition.

Let me appeal to other NGOs, charitable organizations and religious institutions across Jamaica, to make themselves available to accommodate a student’s request to volunteer, should they wish to participate in the competition.   Commit to assisting one young volunteer and so assist their potential for winning one of the prizes.   Your support of this IBI activity will help to foster a society inspired to participate in selfless acts, a necessary step in building a more caring,  peaceful and prosperous country.

I want to use this opportunity to encourage all Jamaicans to unite in pulling our country out of the difficult situation which threatens our progress.  Let us believe that together we can become the progressive nation which our founding fathers envisioned.

I declare this Summer of Service competition officially launched and look forward to wide participation by our young people.