Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland. (FP)

This country’s Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, is encouraging participants in an anti-violence spoken word competition to put their powerful spoken word pieces into action to lead the charge against violence in their various communities.

He threw out this challenge last Friday, while delivering remarks at the prize-giving ceremony for the Ministry’s Anti-Violence Campaign Speak Off ’21 Spoken Word Competition at Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael.

Mr. Sutherland disclosed that statistics showed that 85 per cent of persons incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds were under age 35 and proffered the view that young people had the power to “change what we’re seeing in this society”.

“…You can change the psyche of individuals and to help change this course that we are on in terms of stopping the violence…Put down the guns…Be our brother’s keeper. [But] I find the most powerful way is through peer-to-peer mentorship,” he underlined.

The Minister continued: “You have spoken, you have written, you’ve done posters but I want you to get into your various groupings and translate this to your communities…So, we have the arsenal within Barbados, who can change what we’ve seen today. So,… spread the word, either through the written words, through posters and essay writing.”

Mr. Sutherland reasoned that the Anti-Violence competition was launched as a way of eliciting positive anti-violence messages in various expressive formats. However, the Minister called for the efforts to be sustained if this county was to stem the tide of violence.

“So, we may come here this morning… we may give out these prizes for the speak-off competition but at the end of the day, you cannot stop speaking after this morning.

“When you stop speaking after this morning, or when you received the prize, and the word is not being spread [then the message will not reach its target] and our aim is to stop the violence. There are various media through which we can achieve this and no better person to do this than you the young people,” he emphasised.

The Minister of Youth told participants they were now the ambassadors in leading this change, while pointing out there was a role for schools to play in this regard.

During the ceremony, Abianna Fenty was adjudged the winner in the 12-16 age category with a piece entitled: It’s Time to Make a Change. She received a trophy and a cash prize of $1,600. Macaiah Harewood was the first runner-up with his piece: Protect the Youth from Violence. He received a trophy and a cash voucher for $1, 100. The third runner-up was Serena Archer, with a spoken word selection: Breathe in Breathe out and she copped a cash voucher for $700 and a trophy.

In the 17-22 age group, the winner was Dominic Brathwaite for his work: Life is Funny. He walked away with a $2,000 cash prize and a trophy.  Second place went to Diara Springer with Introspection and she received a prize of $1,600 and a trophy. Coming third was Fallon Miller with her piece: Who we are and she received a cash prize of $1,100 and a trophy.

The awardees will have their pieces professionally recorded in audio and video.

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