What is an MP’s role in advancing quality education?

Remember to BElieve in YOUrself!

“I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier.” – Whitney Houston.

These powerful words from the late songbird Whitney Houston, are indirectly present within the “BElieve in YOUrself” initiative which was founded by Hon. Mark A.G. Brantley St. Kitts & Nevis’ Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation and Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism, Health, Gender, Social Affairs, Social Development, Youth, Sports, Community Development and Culture within the Nevis Island Administration.

Trevis Belle, member of the Caribbean and Americas Standing Committee in efforts to shed light on what young persons (those young at heart included) within the Caribbean and Americas Commonwealth Region are doing to provide Accessible and Quality Education, he sat down to find out more about this tremendous initiative started by a MP.

Read the interview below!


Q: What is the “BElieve in YOUrself” initiative all about? 

A: This is an initiative to seek to foster in our primary school children the necessary self confidence which they will need to develop into productive adults. I want our youths to believe in themselves and yet be themselves. Be who they are and be confident in who they are.

Q: What led you to start this initiative? 

A: I was born into and out of poverty. Education and the opportunities provided to me by so many gave me a chance in life and taught me to believe in myself and to be the very best that I could be. This initiative is my way of trying to give back but also to instil in boys and girls at this still impressionable stage of their development the necessary self confidence which will allow them to achieve their fullest potential.

Q: Who is the audience that this is targeted towards? 

A: We provided backpacks to roughly 800 primary school students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 from ages 5-12. This did not cover all the primary school students in Nevis but just those in my constituency. This was funded by me and so I was unable to do more for this first year. I would however invite sponsors to partner next year to permit me to expand the programme island wide and then ultimately nationally to all of St. Kitts and Nevis in the future. I think it is a credible and worthwhile initiative and hope that it will spur others to engage with our youth at all levels.

Q: What impact do you think this will have? 

A: I am optimistic that this will inspire the students benefiting from the initiative but also their parents and the wider community to give back and to engage more deeply with our children. We say they are our future. I however think that they are our present and we must spare no expense to prepare them for an increasingly complex and difficult world.

Q: How was the support from the general public when you launched this initiative?

A: The support was tremendous. We opted to distribute the backpacks through the schools and each of the Principals came for the handing over ceremony to collect and then distribute. I was exceedingly pleased at the public’s response. I have also had several calls and letters and expressions of gratitude on social media from parents and others who feel that the initiative is useful and timely. One parent even took to social media to say how inspired her son was and showed her son off to school sporting his BElieve in YOUrself backpack.

Q:  Did you encounter any issues or problems, if yes, how did you overcome them? 

A: Yes. We ran out of back packs. We missed the count and so ended up being short of a few but the principals were very accommodating and were able to share with each other to ensure that every child who needed or wanted a backpack received one.

Q:  Will this be repeated next year, if yes, how do you expect to make it even better? 

A: Yes we have committed to making this an annual event. Next year we hope to improve the artwork by offering different colour backpacks and we hope to expand it throughout the entire island of Nevis to all primary school children. My hope is that this tiny spark will become a contagion of charitable giving and renewed interest in our children and their education. BElieve in YOUrself is an initiative which is here to stay.


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