Entertainment

Grand Gala 55 Grand — bringing youth together

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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Jamaica 55 Independence Grand Gala, held at the National Stadium in St Andrew last Sunday, surpassed expectations despite the threat of the inclement weather.

Close to 1,000 young people, drawn from various communities along the seafront belt and extending as far as Portmore and Spanish Town, got an opportunity to work together, play together, and join forces in the national interest, casting aside the political polarisation that affects their respective communities.

For most of these youths, it was the first time that they were able to participate in any kind of activity on a national scale. For many, it was the first time they were entering the National Stadium. They got a chance to experience life outside of their garrison communities and, in the process, began building hopes for the future.

Fifteen-year-old Moesha Cameron from Spanish Town described the experience as life-changing.

“I never thought I could get a chance to perform in such a big space. I got to see the prime minister and the governor general up close. It was an experience I will treasure forever,” she said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by 14-year-old Davian Smith from East Kingston: “I feel very proud that I was able to participate. My family came out to see me and this has helped me to decide what I want to do in life. I am certain that I want to become a professional actor and dancer.”

The Government of Jamaica set aside approximately $180 million to execute the Independence celebrations island wide. From all indications, it was money well spent. Local economies benefited significantly with costume designers, transport operators, caterers, and other support services seeing a significant increase in business at the community level.

Acting executive director at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, the agency responsible for the production of the Independence celebrations, said every penny was well spent.

“When you look at how the spend has impacted communities, I believe that every Jamaican must be satisfied that the Government of Jamaica has seen fit to invest in its young people and communities in this way. The money spent today will reap significant benefits in the future. Most of the young people who participated would have seen life from different perspectives and that would inform their future choices. So we see that in the execution of these kinds of activities we are actually helping to shape the future generation. We had young people from various different backgrounds working together seamlessly. Friendships were formed and barriers were broken. If anything, we would want to see greater investment in Independence and festival activities. This is about shaping Jamaica's future by properly socialising the young people to become first class citizens.”

The Grand Gala was presented under the theme 'The Marvels of Jamaica'. It explored several areas of national life and institutions, including the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the 145th anniversary of the establishment of the city of Kingston, the national heroes and folk icons, and the nation's history.

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