Twenty-six STARR Bajan trainees from the Barbados YouthADVANCE Corps (BYAC) are now more confident in themselves and their communication skills.
Chief among them were Arielle Boyce, Daniel Whinfield, Isaiah Mason and Rivaldo Niles, four students who excelled. They graduated with distinction from the National Transformation Initiative (NTI) Technical Vocational Transitional Literacy Programme (TVTLP). It was delivered to trainees of the BYAC, which falls under the Division of Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment.
The virtual graduation ceremony for the third cohort of BYAC trainees took place on Sunday, October 10th. Along with proud parents, guests included Principal of the Barbados Community College (BCC), Annette Alleyne; Principal of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI), Ian Drakes; Executive Director of BIMAP, Dr. Sonia Greenidge-Franklin; Director of Training of the Barbados Vocational Training Board, Henderson Thompson, and members of the BYAC Training Committee and staff.
Designed by adult literacy educator, Rosaline Corbin, the programme sought to prepare trainees, as young adult learners, to achieve entry level competency in their technical and vocational programmes of choice. Four major modules were learning to read with understanding, writing to communicate, communicating with manners, and computer device/digital literacy.
Students and parents, in glowing testimonials, attested to improvements in communication skills gained through lessons on interview preparation, writing memos and formal letters, reading, as well as speaking in various settings well. Many graduates, including Devonté Leacock and Tré Holder, related that the programme not only helped prepare them for the next chapter of their lives, but built their self-confidence, while improving their confidence in their reading, speaking, and writing abilities.
Daniel Whinfield, TVTLP Class Ambassador and recipient of a distinction, summed up the graduates’ gains from the programme with a well-crafted address. He said, “I believe that I can speak for my colleagues when I say that we feel more confident, ambitious and equipped than ever to move on to the next level”.
He also expressed gratitude to BYAC, the tutors, and the NTI “for encouraging us to believe in ourselves. We are eternally grateful for this invaluable experience, which has taught us that success cannot be obtained if you do not work for it”.
Director of the NTI, Dr. Allyson Leacock, congratulated graduates on their achievements and encouraged them to continue to develop themselves as STARR Bajans. Explaining that the STARR acronym means Select, Train, Assess, Review and Recognise, she inspired students to “select their paths, use training as a door of opportunity to lifelong learning, assess where they are in their lives, who they are and where they want to be, review how far they have come by appreciating their journey, and recognise their worth and value”.
Dr. Leacock further urged the graduates to seek out training opportunities through nti.org.bb and continue learning for life. Her inspirational address was complemented by Adrian Green’s spoken word presentation, You Have What It Takes, which reinforced that each of the graduates had what it took to fulfil their dreams.
Students heard uplifting words and were the pride of their tutors, Rosaline Corbin and Jeff Broomes, assistant tutor Glendine Hewitt, BYAC guidance officer and host of the ceremony, Markiesha Alleyne, who actually conceptualised the TVTLP, and counsellor Nikita Drakes.
Of the programme outcomes, Drakes remarked: “I saw them coming out of the shells that they came into the programme with. It is a true testament of what this programme did and where the programme took them from.” Equally, Melissa Nurse-Herbert, BYAC Senior Programme Officer, lauded the programme, considering the outcome “a phenomenal showing of growth over the life of the programme.”