I am joined by Lady Allen in expressing pleasure to be here for the first in the series of annual presentation ceremonies for The Governor-General’s Achievement Awards (GGAA). For the past 28 years, we have recognized deserving individuals from all walks of life across all Parishes.

These Awards focus on stimulating excellence in three categories:
i) 18-24 years for persons who have excelled academically, and volunteerism.
ii) 25-35 year for persons who have excelled academically and professionally, as well as community services
iii) Over 35 years for persons who have ‘pulled themselves up’ even through difficult circumstances, and have made a difference in society.
All the Award recipients were selected according to a strict evaluation criterion, which the Programme espouses to recognize individuals who are making a success in their lives and affecting our country positively.

I am sure the Custodes had a difficult time trying to select “the best of the best.”

Our theme this year, “Engaging, Empowering, and Inspiring Jamaicans” encapsulates what The Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE) and the Achievement Awards are all about.

‘Engagement’ has become a very trendy word. But what does it really mean? People who are ‘engaged’ usually want to be part of something that is bigger, better, useful, and valuable. They want to make a difference in the lives of others, in their communities, and even the world. They relate well with others and feel connected to them.

Our recipients today have excelled academically and/or have been engaged in projects and activities, pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and made good in the country. Their actions helped to make life a little better for themselves and for others.

As you are aware, the I Believe Initiative is all about empowering individuals, believing in the capacity and potential of the people and helping them to achieve their goals.

Our 18-24 recipients have excelled academically. They were confident that they could be successful in their exams. Some had financial and other challenges but they had a goal in mind and fixity of purpose that led them to that light at the end of the tunnel.

• We empower people by letting them use their creative talent to come up with ideas to improve their circumstances.
• We also empower people when we celebrate successes and failures, and encourage the learning of new things.

Those of you who have volunteered at summer camps, homework centres, youth clubs, and other places know the best way to empower others people is to model the attitude, work ethic, and character you want them to embrace. People do what people see.

United States President John Quincy Adams said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Our award recipients inspired others by being successful volunteers and mentors.
• They earned the trust of the young people with whom they worked.
• They listened, gave constructive criticism.
• The encouraged them to aim high.
Others were inspired by the care and interest you take in them. Each recipient here is unique and has an inspiring story, as you will learn in listening to the Citations.

National Hero Marcus Garvey said “God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.”

I urge everyone here this afternoon to engage, empower, and inspire yourselves and at least one other person this year. Your life will be richer, and you will be happier knowing that you have changed your life and that of someone else.

The achievements of these recipients are some of the reasons that I still Believe in Jamaica and Jamaicans, and there are many others who do. Sharing that commitment for the last 28 years are:
• Victoria Mutual Foundation.
• Scotiabank.
• Jamaica National Group.
• The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited.
• The Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies, and,

They have provided not only funding but personnel to assist with the successful execution of the Programme. I thank the Custos, our dedicated Staff at King’s House, the IBI Ambassadors and well-wishers.

The young, upcoming, female Reggae artiste, Koffee, sings about the blessing on her life, thanks God for her journeys and earnings, and concludes that Gratitude is a must.

This afternoon ladies and gentlemen Gratitude is a must. So can we hash-tag 2019, #seasonofgratitude — because the next two months will be the season when we recognise the unsung heroes and scholars of our nation, and pay tribute to them through this Achievement Awards.
Congratulations to all the Award recipients. God bless you.