Thirteen-year-old Najari Chase of Deighton Griffith Secondary School was recently honoured as The Peace Ambassador for 2022, by the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT).
The student, who was recently lauded by a British visitor for returning a wallet which that tourist dropped, received the designation on Friday, April 8, at the Elsie Payne Complex, in the presence of his parents and officials from the Ministry, including Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney.
Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, in explaining the title during a brief award ceremony, said: “The designation of the METVT’s Peace Ambassador is the highest award given to any student between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. To be assigned such, a student should have demonstrated a positive action of national significance.”
Recalling that in 2018, the first Peace Ambassador award went to Ayra Newton, a student of Princess Margaret Secondary School, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw told the gathering that Ms. Newton was being bullied at a bus stop by another female student but refused to retaliate, choosing instead to walk away from the volatile situation.
“Her action made the Ministry aware of the importance of peace and she was given her sash as Peace Ambassador, also at the Elsie Payne Complex,” said Dr. Archer-Bradshaw.
In 2019, the second person awarded was Terry Phillips, a Class Three student at St. Giles Primary, for a change in behaviour.
Giving the rationale for bestowing the title on young Najari Chase, the Chief Education Officer said it was for his “act of random kindness in returning a wallet to a visiting British tourist”. “This action again, made a positive impact on Barbados, of course in the eyes of the region and the rest of the world,” she remarked.
Najari, recited the Ministry’s Peace Pledge, prior to accepting his award and later got the opportunity to pose with Minister McConney, Dr. Archer-Bradshaw, and to include his family members in some of the official photographs.
Dr. Archer-Bradshaw, further expressing her own sentiments on the “act of kindness” said: “When I viewed the post on social media, I was moved to learn that a young man, who could have chosen to keep the contents of the wallet that was dropped, took an action that not only brought honour to his family, to his school, and his community but also to his country.
“The heartfelt post by the visitor demonstrated the deep gratitude that he had for Najari’s act of kindness in returning the wallet. In that moment; I felt exceedingly proud to be associated with the Ministry of Education and more importantly, I felt proud to be a Barbadian.”
Contrasting this response to the negativity surrounding a recent TikTok post by some students, Dr. Archer-Bradshaw stressed: “This positive act was a welcome change; this is what I meant when I said that we should use social media to showcase positive things.”
She acknowledged the Ministry was celebrating Najari for showcasing to the world “what it means to be honest and kind” and emphasised it had to be a reflection of his upbringing. The Chief Education Officer therefore also thanked his parents, extended family, teachers and those within his community for shaping “such a young man”.
The young man also found other gifts awaiting him for his honest deed of returning the lost wallet. It was revealed that the Hilton Barbados had generously reached out and provided Najari with a certificate for a Staycation for A Family of Four, and the family would receive a Premium Corner Room for two nights and a buffet breakfast at the Lighthouse Terrace Restaurant for four.
On Monday, March 28, Najari Chase performed a small act of honesty when, while walking to the barbershop in Oistins, Christ Church, he saw a British visitor drop his wallet and without hesitation, the school boy picked it up and quickly returned it to its owner.