Above It All

Teenage Mom Triumphs

Growing up, the St Ann resident had never met her father who lives in the United States, and realised from an early age that education would be her only means of escaping the biting hands of poverty. “It was very clear that he had no interest in being a part of my life, so I had to do the best with what I had,” Daidrian shared.

Living a very average life, she tried to maintain a sense of balance. This included having a high-school boyfriend two years older than herself, whom she started talking to when she was in third form. “We were always good friends and he was very kind and ... read more

Above It All Interviewe gets recognized

Lady Allen, center, chats with Percy Aiden in a courtesy call to Kings House. Looking on is Ms. Tricia Grier,IBI Project Officer.

Earlier this year, The Gleaner’s Youthlink published a dynamic set of stories in a weekly series, Above It All, featuring extraordinary teens who have overcome extenuating challenges.
The response to the series has taken various forms but for one interviewee, his recognition took a distinguished tone.

Percy B Aiden’s* story was published on February 6, 2018 and picked up the attention of Lady Allen, the Governor General’s wife, who has offered to assist the youngster.

Aiden killed his cousin at thirteen years old after a game of football went south. He spent time in ... read more

PERCY B. AIDEN from inmate to college student

Illustration by Rushaine Clarke

Growing up in rural Jamaica, Percy B. Aiden* was always known to be an introvert. His silence was further compounded by his nomadic childhood, which had him back and forth from one parent’s house to the other. This came as a result of them trying to co-parent the best way they knew how, despite living apart.

With all this happening, it was hard for Aiden to focus on GSAT, which he failed in 2010. Subsequently, he was placed at an all-age school in the parish, where he tried to cope as best as he could. “I was very quiet at school and, to make matters worse, I had a very small frame... read more

Anastasia Wilmot not allowing HIV/ AIDS to imprison her mind

Armed with an unbridled spirit and a squeaky voice to go with her petite frame, Anastasia Wilmot* seemed very hard to rattled by the toughest of challenges in life. “I grew up with my grandmother, who was very loving but in strong way, so i guess i learnt how to bear things out from her,” declared Wilmot. 

However despite this strong-willed countenance, the 17-year-old Wilmot would go through a winter of tribulations in 2015 when she lost her grandmother and mother a month a part. “It was so hard on me, my grandmother had cancer and refused to do surgery, so things gradually got... read more

Above it All - Angelee’s refusal to let Kidney Disease limit her

Being a young and precocious baby, Angelee Bennett showed no major signs of ill health in her infancy, until she became three years old. “I got a call from her basic school teacher one day, who said she started to vomit, so I had to collect her and take her to the doctor,” reminisced  Marlett Bailey, Bennett’s mother. 

At first, the doctor said Bennett was dehydrated and recommended rehydration salt and panadol as a suitable remedy. Unfortunately, this did not improve her situation as her eyes became yellow and her illness got worse. As a result, she was  admitted to May Pen General... read more

Jamel refuses to let sickle cell slow him down

As part of a regular prenatal-care  procedure, Janet Campbell, Jamel’s  mother, was instructed by her doctor  to do a test for sickle cell while in her third  trimester. This was something the Lawrence  Tavern resident was unfazed by at the time,  because she was certain she did not carry the  sickle cell trait. At that time, she had never  been told by a doctor before that she had  sickle cell.  “When the result came back, they  told me I had a trait of it and they  needed to test his father next. Unfortunately,  he also had the trait. We  didn’t believe it at first, so he did  the test... read more

Percy B Aiden’s journey from a Juvenile inmate to a college student

Growing up in rural Jamaica, Percy B Aiden* was always known to be an introvert. His silence was further compounded by his nomadic childhood which had him back and forth from one parent’s house to the other. This came as a result of them trying to co parent the best way they knew how despite being living apart. 

With all this happening, it was hard for Aiden to focus on his GSAT exams, which he failed in 2010. Subsequently, he was placed at an All Age School in parish, where he tried to cope the best way he knew. “I was very quiet at school and to make matters worse, i had a very... read more

Martin Thomas Using his autism to shape his art Martin Thomas

For Martin Thomas,  who came to Jamaica at  eight months old, his  path to finding his  purpose has been a  contorted one with  many discouraging potholes.  “He could not talk up to age  four, and I became extremely  worried, so I took him to a doctor  where he was diagnosed with highfunction  autism. Of course, all this  was so new to me. I was in total  shock,” revealed Janice Hall  Thomas, Martin’s mother.  This news came three years after  his mother had made a conscious  decision to return to Jamaica after  living in England for 28 years.  “My husband and I wanted our  kids to grow up... read more

Above it All - I was a verbal Bully

Growing up in rural Jamaica, Mishca Ann Shakespear* was a very active child who preferred to play with plants rather than her peer. However when she was seven years old, her relationship with her mother became toxic and she had to live with her father. “She didn’t like me and she made me know it. Something as simple as a hug, she would push me away. I was so angry at her, because i wanted us to a regular mother-daughter relationship, but it was clear this was never going to happen,” revealed Shakespear. 

This social shift planted a seed of disruption that showed no visible signs in... read more

Above it All

ABOUT TWO years ago, I got a chance to chat with some guidance counsellors while at a university seminar geared towards high- school students. During breaks, we would form a huddle and talk about the challenges facing our teens and how these challenges can hinder their academic growth, especially when matriculating to a university.

Some of the first-hand stories they shared were very alarming and sad; most centred around the psychological effects of being in an impoverished situation, as well as living with a disease like sickle cell.
It was clear that more light needed to be... read more


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