Expo, Concert mark the Jamaican launch of the Xchange anti-violence movement
May 31, 2005
Sizzling performances from top Jamaican artistes, appearances from members of the national football team, “the Reggae Boyz”, and exciting presentations and giveaways from some 30 exhibitors were highlights of the Jamaican launch of Xchange - a Caribbean movement to create safe and protective environments for children and young people in the region.
The local launch took place on May 28, 2005 in Emancipation Park, Kingston, and not even the scorching temperatures daunted the spirit of the over 3000 persons who attended the Expo and Concert, staged to mark the kick-off of Xchange in Jamaica. The events were mounted by UNICEF in association with the Violence Prevention Alliance (an umbrella organisation uniting groups and agencies working towards violence prevention, and spearheaded by the Ministry of Health).
The exposition featured displays from communities affected by violence as well as CBOs, NGOs and government agencies involved in violence prevention, child protection and community development activities. The booths highlighted the work being done by these organisations, and many were manned by young people. Community groups showed off their achievements in sports, craft and entrepreneurship.
A series of “reasonings” (informal panel discussions which had wide interaction with visitors to the expo) also took place during this segment of the launch. Topics covered included Parenting and Violence Prevention, Child Abuse and Violence Against Children, Sports as a Tool for Personal and Community Development and Violence and Mass Media. These were all hosted by popular media personality and university lecturer, Kingsley “Ragashanti” Stewart who kept the crowd entertained throughout the day.
One highlight was a discussion with Reggae Boyz Garfield Reid, Lovell Palmer, Roland Dean, Adrian Reid and Lutan Shelton who spoke of the importance of keeping a cool head on the field and the need for a spirit of unity and cooperation for success in sports and in life.
There was also entertainment during the day with dance contests, a fashion show featuring creations from a young designer from an inner-city community and giveaways of Xchange t-shirts, bandanas, key-rings and bracelets. There was also face-painting, clowns and magicians to entertain younger participants.
The main event was however the concert which featured some of Jamaica’s top artistes including Natty King, Kyan, To-Isis, Sugar Ray and Conrad Crystal, Alpha Rowen, Junior Fearon and Ken Boothe. Other performers were saxophonist Tony Greene, singer Alaine Laughton and dub poets and dramatists Nomadz. Gospel artistes Sandra Brooks and Goddy Goddy completed the line-up and emcee Paula Ann Porter reminded the crowd of the importance of remaining united against violence.
The vibrant emcee, Paula Ann Porter had the audience chanting the Xchange slogan of “Love Over Hate, Peace Over War, Life Over Death” to reinforce the anti-violence message throughout the evening.Jamaican Xchangers Orlando Hamilton and Kemar Smith, both of whom attended the Xchange Caribbean Youth Leaders Workshop in Trinidad in March, led the crowd in reciting the Xchange Pledge which committed them to rejecting violence and becoming positive role models for their peers.
The night ended with Natty King’s performance of his chart-topping anti-violence song “No Guns to Town” which had the audience on its feet, dancing and singing along. Xchange in Jamaica will be followed up by activities in eight inner-city communities – Mountain View, Flankers, Fletcher’s Land, Grant’s Pen, Bennett Lands/S-Corner, Tawes Pen and downtown Kingston – which all sent youth leaders to be trained in Trinidad earlier this year.