A year ago, when we launched the “I Believe” Ambassadors, we had all been greatly motivated by the impact of the 2012 Youth Consultative Conferences.  The new group of Ambassadors had all played a significant role in the three conferences where you either served as presenters or facilitators.  You experienced the satisfaction of having helped hundreds of youth to believe in their potential so that they can achieve their dreams.

However, you realized that what we had accomplished was but the tip of the iceberg.  The “I Believe” Initiative had only just begun the long march towards the attainment of its objectives. Therefore, as “I Believe” Ambassadors, you understood your role in the diffusion of the message and in fostering a beneficial impact on the lives of our youth.

You understood the need to do your part to convince our nation that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica. By your own lifestyle and example, you had to demonstrate that you are using your talents and resources to contribute to the solutions which we need, if we are ever going to achieve the targets outlined in Vision 2030.

Lady Allen and I are grateful for the efforts which each Ambassador continues to make either within defined IBI projects or on your own initiative.  Although you are all busy with your own careers or with your businesses, you still make time to attend and participate in IBI activities and I thank you for that.

Some of you are serving as mentors at the Holy Trinity High School and I remember how you all seemed to enjoy being with those 9N students when they came to King’s House for that picnic and tour in the Summer.  As you resume your interaction with them in the 10th grade, I am sure that the engagement will be mutually rewarding.

On that note, I wish to specially recognise the presence of Mr. Reginald Budhan, the Co-ordinator for the Ministry of Education’s Respect Agenda.  I’ll ask him to speak briefly about the project, but suffice it to say now that there are synergies between the IBI and the Respect Agenda which should facilitate collaboration especially at the level of the “I Believe” Ambassadors. The mentorship programme which the Respect Agenda will operate can be linked with the IBI’s programme to mutual advantage.

I want to thank Gerry McDaniel for having created history at King’s House.  For the first time ever, in July, an entire radio show was broadcast live from King’s House when Palav brought the “I Believe” messages into people’s homes.  Gerry, you are a great Ambassador, constantly promoting the IBI on Palav and I am pleased that Gerry is also using his position as a World Bank consultant to keep the IBI plugged into Digital Jam 3.0.

Other radio personalities, Jenny Jenny and Nadine Blair have also been using their programmes to promote the IBI.  In addition, both of you contributed royally to the success of our first National Youth Conference, for which I am grateful.

Using the print media very effectively on our behalf is Glenford Smith and I know that there are many other ways in which you have been using your talents Glenford, on behalf of the IBI.  One thing is certain: we can always count on you to be an active participant in IBI events, conducting mentorship training for the “I Believe” Ambassadors, traveling across the island for the Animation training courses, donating copies of your book “From Problems to Power” to the IBI, and the list goes on.

Other Ambassadors have incorporated the IBI messages in their professional or voluntary outreach, as shown in the reports from Janelle DeFreitas, Heneka Watkis Porter, Yohan Blake and Neville Charlton. This is excellent, because what you have shown is the extent to which you have internalized the IBI concept, so much so that it flows naturally in your interaction with youth on the job, in your church and community activities, in your voluntary organizations and in Yohan’s case, in your Foundation.

Wayne Sinclair began the IBI’s connection with the animation industry and is so far the only Ambassador engaged in that industry.  Thanks to Wayne, the top two students from our IBI animations courses in July received scholarships to participate in the ongoing Animate Jamaica training programme at UWI- CARIMAC.  We still have not reached agreement with ToonBoom re the continuing training for the remaining thirteen top students and this is an area in which we hope that Ambassador Sinclair will be able to give us some guidance.

I understand that most of you have not found the time to submit reports on your activities, but I am confident that you have sought to invest in the lives of our youth in ways which will build their character.  I thank you for having supported the National Youth Conference, which most of you took time-off to attend.  It was good to have seen you all there.

A new achievement which I am very pleased to report is the establishment of the first IBI Parish Nucleus.  We plan to establish core groups in each parish to accelerate the spread of the message and deepen the impact which the IBI has across the island.  On November 22, the first nucleus was established in Montego Bay in a small ceremony in the Office of the Custos for St. James, the Hon Ewen Corrodus.  Six new IB Ambassadors were installed and they will work directly with Mr. Giusseppi  Maffessanti, an IBI Advisory Board member, on projects which they will design in accordance with IBI principles.

You would have seen recently in the news that I pinned a new “I Believe” Ambassador here at King’s House when Digital Jam 3.0 was launched. Happily, that new Ambassador, Roxanne Wanliss, is here and I am sure that you will have the opportunity to learn more about her story.  We welcome you on board Roxanne and I look forward to the ways in which you will help to further the cause of the IBI.

Ambassadors, we are here at the Spanish Court Hotel because of the very strong support which the IBI continues to receive from Mr. Christopher Issa.  This is a man who is passionate about the Initiative but he is also passionate about Jamaica.  He is convinced that we have the capacity to turn this country around and that what we need is for positive values and attitudes to be reignited in our people.

I am very happy that you have agreed to address us, Chris, because I appreciate the sincerity of your commitment to Jamaica.  I know that you can motivate our Ambassadors and indeed, our IBI Team, to be even more effective and committed as we do our part to build a better Jamaica.

In our discussions over lunch, I would like the Ambassadors to consider what you have achieved in 2013 and ways in which you could build on your experiences for 2014.  Feel free to make your recommendations on how to enhance your impact, both individually and as a group.

I expect that the IBI Team will compile your recommendations, and bearing in mind proposals and ideas from Mr. Issa’s speech, as well as from the Respect Agenda, these will formulate a programme for action by the Ambassadors in 2014.

Thank you all for taking the time to attend this working lunch and I look forward to hearing your comments and proposals.