ROCK Is Rocking…Or Bouncing, With Optimism

“Yours in Optimism…”

As you are pondering over the title of this post, this might give you a clue. Yes – ROCK stands for the Royal Optimist Club of Kingston. Established on September 29, 2011, it has grown out of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Optimist Club. At 28 members, all young professionals, it is still growing. In fact, the club just added a new “Rock Star” this month – Olivia Wright, who served as Secretary on the Junior Optimist International Caribbean Board of Directors. I spoke recently with President Candice K. Stewart and Club member Zaid Hamil about their recent work, and the direction the Club is heading in. They sounded dedicated and focused on what needs to be done. Whatever path they take, it will be solidly and well thought out.

A New ROCK star! Ms. Olivia Wright was sworn in on March 21. (Photo: ROCK)

ROCK’s focus is on what we call “Youth” – that is, young people in general – and children. It is working on a number of activities, some under the umbrella of its wider Caribbean network – that is, Optimism International Caribbean District (I am trying to learn more about the service club system).

Volunteering is an important part of ROCK’s work. ROCK works at Sophie’s Place in Gordon Town, home to around 20 children with disabilities and run by Mustard Seed Communities. It also works at the Glenhope Nursery and Place of Safety on Maxfield Avenue, operated by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency; Early Steps Pre-School and Kindergarten in Patrick City; and Dunrobin Primary School.

ROCK members recently worked alongside volunteers from the faith-based organization Focus Catholic at Sophie’s Place. (Photo: ROCK)

In short order, ROCK will focus on childhood cancer, HIV/AIDS and autism, through the regional Childhood Health and Response Mission (CHaRM) programme of Optimism International Caribbean District. There will also be a Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing hosted by the Caribbean District, and ROCK plans to be a part of it. ROCK members believe that bullying (including cyberbullying) is an urgent youth-related issue that the Ministry of Education needs to take seriously. I agree. ROCK has begun serious work on this topic – and they intend to get more aggressive by addressing the groups they work with frequently on the issue.

On March 10, the Club hosted a special Oratorical Contest at the club level. It was ROCK’s first staging of the contest. The winner at the club level advanced to the Oratorical Contest at the Zone level. Unfortunately, he did not advance to the Caribbean District Level – which takes place on April 7, 2017 at the TVJ studios. Four contestants from the same high school, Gaynstead High School, had entered ROCK’s contest. Candice Stewart observes:

The young men were naturally nervous. However, the contest chair, Mr. Zaid Hamil gave them a power talk and he prepared them well in advance by sending them tips and tricks to aid in their preparation process. The participants were also in receipt of recordings of students across the world, who would have participated in the contest before. Minutes before the contest, Zaid gave them a power talk to calm their nerves. All four young men did exceptionally well. We could see that they paid close attention to the tips they were given. The judges were Mr. Chad Bryan, Ms. Dacia Miller and Mr. Layton Shaw, all versed in speech delivery.

This was also an opportunity to award the 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed students who participated in a recent Essay Contest.

Nickoy Vassell, Anthoneil Myrie, Deshawn Jackson, Kimario Lee. Parents and family friends standing directly behind the boys. (Photo: ROCK)

Importantly, the day was spent focusing on the four young men, helping to hone their skills in public speaking, boosting their confidence and self-esteem and celebrating their progress along with their families, friends and supportive ROCK members. Barracks Entertainment Productions, the Companies Offices of Jamaica, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency and JCDC sponsored the trophies for the Oratorical and Essay Contests. In the Essay Contest, Kimario Lee’s entry was edited and sent to be judged at the District level. If he places at that level, he will win monetary prizes. Oratorical Contest winner Anthoneil Myrie will go on to represent the club and his school at the Zone level.

Here are the results of the club level contests:

Essay Contest:

1st – Kimario Lee

2nd – Chesine McDonald

3rd – Nickoy Vassell

Oratorical Contest:

1st – Anthoneil Myrie

2nd – Deshawn Jackson

3rd – Kimario Lee

4th – Nickoy Vassell

Good luck, Mr. Lee and Mr. Myrie!

If you would like to attend the 2018 Oratorical Contest, please contact the number on this flyer as seating is limited.

ROCK meets every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at the YMCA, 21 Hope Road, Kingston 10. 

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ROCK President Candice K. Stewart gave a description of what it means to be an Optimist…”Optimism goes deeper and wider than looking at the brighter side of life. It goes farther and further than striving to always be happy. This is my Optimism. Promise yourself…
“to think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world; not in loud words, but in great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
The last few lines of Christian D. Larson’s ‘Promise Yourself’ defines my Optimism. The resonating sentiment is that showing who you are (in a world filled with great story tellers and opportunists) is better done by action as opposed to chatter.
Helping your sister and brother in humanity goes further than any story could. Optimism is about being true to who you are, it is about being bold for positive change and placing great value on principles and impact as opposed to personal tangible gains”.


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