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Manzanilla students stand out with sex awareness campaign

...cop second place in Young Leaders competition
Sunday, July 7, 2013
TOP: Students of Manzanilla High School who took part in the RBC Young Leaders competition. PHOTOS COURTESY GINGER LUTCHMAN BUTTOM: President of Manzanilla Secondary school young leaders project Mekeda Castellano, left, holds the second-place plaque while Minister of Education Dr Tim Goopeesingh and the co-ordinating teachers Ginger Lutchman-Baijuram, Claudia Mohon-ChoyTin and Renee Mulchan-Jitta look on.

Describing themselves as “agents of change,” students of Manzanilla Secondary school took to the streets,  distributing pamphlets and brochures on sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancies and irresponsible sexual behaviour. It was part of their Fantasy vs Reality-Sex Education drive, which won them second place in the RBC Young Leaders competition. This was the second time the team of 37 students, headed by Makeda Castellano, entered the competition. They hosted debates and lectures, distributed pamphlets, held a walk-a-thon and posted facts about the ills of unsafe sex on social networking sites.


Co-ordinator of the project Ginger Lutchman-Baijuram said the team adopted the RBC theme “Be the Change.” She said their web page ( was used as a channel to spread knowledge of safe sex, prevention of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) throughout the nation. “The theme was used to highlight teenage pregnancy, the rise of sexually transmitted disease victims, abortions in the world, our community, society, school and to take an initiative to change things. Our young leaders believe that each individual should learn from the mistake of others and themselves and become ‘agents of change’ thus creating a positive environment within themselves, their home, community and nation,” Lutchman-Baijuram said.


She added that on February 9, the leaders engaged in an awareness walk before launching their project at the Manzanilla community. It was held the weekend before Carnival in a hope that the message would be heard and people would practise safe sex. Lutchman-Baijuram said lectures were given by the nurse of the Manzanilla outreach health centre to the student population, and the young leaders treated the audience to a skit. A video of the skit was posted on YouTube to highlight the consequences of sex. It was aimed at encouraging increasing teenager knowledge of puberty, sex and pregnancy. Lutchman said the students’ testimonials showed a lot was learnt about the consequences of sex. A total of 60 other schools participated in the project.


About Young Leaders

The RBC Young Leaders Programme dates back to 1981. It began as an essay-writing competition where candidates wrote about the importance of savings. By 1984 the programme broadened its scope to encourage community development, challenging students to implement sustainable projects that would benefit their respective communities. This was followed by two name changes—Star Class in 1988 and Young Leaders in 1990. By 2002, another component, the Young Leaders Debates, was introduced to provide a forum for students to build and improve public-speaking skills. 


Today, the programme has expanded to touch the lives of young people in Antigua, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts/Nevis and St Lucia. The programme is open to secondary schools students in forms three and four. The 2011/2013 theme: Be the change “Stand Up and Be The change”. That was the call of the Dalai Lama speaking to a group of young people in the United Kingdom in June 2012. He challenged them to take responsibility for their actions, and be the change they want to see in this world.   


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