The GG’s I Believe National Youth Conference: A Resounding Success

October 24, 2013

The Governor-General’s I Believe Initiative’s National Youth Conference culminated on a high note last Thursday (October 24), but not before serving up sessions focused on assisting youth with career choices through “Career Development” and “Youth Entrepreneurship“; twin themes that guided the event at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

It was with a sense of accomplishment that the IBI team presented three high-profile speakers:  Mrs. Joan Vogelesang, CEO of Canada-based animation company Toon Boom Animation; International Motivational Coach and renowned author Alvin Day (based in the USA) and UK-based musician/ businessman Levi “The Dragon Slayer” Roots.  All three freely gave their time and expertise as a testimony of their commitment to the purposes and objectives of the IBI.

At the opening ceremony, Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen, host of the event, challenged the more than 700 youth who were in attendance to take the best advantage of such a rare opportunity. Sir Patrick publicly recognised the IBI Ambassadors and Sponsors who he said “have faithfully and generously collaborated with the IBI” in pursuit of national development through the advancement of our young people. He reminded the Conference that the “I Believe Initiative is all about people believing in their God-given potential to succeed and helping each other to move further up the ladder as together we build a better Jamaica”.

Keynote speaker Mrs. Joan Vogelesang, reminisced on her formative years in Jamaica and her early determination to succeed to the point of international recognition. Two Emmy Awards later, she now encouraged Conference participants to tap into the multi-billion animation industry. “The output of the global animation industry has reached US$222 billion”, stated Vogelesang during her presentation.

She emphasized the importance of training and certification in order to benefit from the animation industry. There was no need for youth to migrate in order to work in the industry as already local ToonBoom affiliate GSW Animations needed well-trained animators. In addition, many major studios are looking at outsourcing in Jamaica.

Presenter Alvin Day ignited fires of belief in the bellies of the delegates and other specially invited guests: “I am not here to motivate you, I am here to make you uncomfortable” Mr. Day stated. He challenged delegates to rise above socio-economic hurdles through hard, focused work; to endure the transformational difficulties and soar, like the caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly. He stressed how essential vision -as well as belief in that vision- was to achieving success.

Levi “the Dragon Slayer” Roots seized the baton with his presentation dubbed “Business: You can Make it.” Levi told the delegates how he managed to convince the investors on the TV show the ‘Dragons Den’ to invest not just in his idea but in his image. He said that his “Reggae Reggae” sauce is now outselling popular brands in the United Kingdom. Levi encouraged the delegates to be themselves in whatever they do.

“Once you know what you want, you must go for it but you must be yourself. The investors did not just invest in my idea-my Reggae Reggae Sauce, they invested in me, they invested in my culture, they invested in who I am”.

Twenty five young persons from all across Jamaica received the Governor-General’s Achievement Award for academic excellence, volunteerism and leadership skills, as well as for community service. Based on their exemplary achievements, Sir Patrick urged delegates to continuously strive for excellence.

The sounds of Lisa Sterling, IBI Ambassador Kevin Downswell and Nickeisha Barnes brought the curtains down on the day-long Conference, much to excitement of the delegates in a concert emceed by Jenny Jenny and Nadine Blair.  Ms Blair, an IBI Ambassador, also chaired the day’s proceedings and added her own inimitable, inspirational style to the Conference.

The IBI message found fertile ground among the youth, many of whom are applying to become “I Believe” Ambassadors in the conviction that “There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica”.