The Big Brothers and Sisters of St Lucia are continuing their quest to reach out to the island’s troubled young people. Recently, the group organized a spelling bee competition at the Massade Boys Training Centre. The wards were divided into six teams: alphabets A through to F. Each team had six members.
The participants gathered under a tent on the grounds and were introduced to the judges—Patrina Reid, Iain Smith and Patrick Fearon—as well as the day’s pronouncer Magistrate Velon John. It was a day of good, clean fun which reinforced the values of teamwork, sportsmanship and encouraged healthy competition.
Opening the event, the organisation’s president Janice Hector encouraged the wards to do their best. She said: “In every race there must be a winner. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t get upset. Failures and mistakes are a part of life but if you keep persevering and you put your best foot forward, you will succeed.”
The audience, which comprised members of the group as well as well-wishers and relatives of the wards, were on the edge of their seats as the boys ploughed through words from grade one through to advanced levels. The competition was tight and the boys encouraged their teammates throughout.
In the end there were disappointments for those who did not triumph. However, for Team D, their hard work and determination paid off. They displayed the first place trophy with pride.
Magistrate John offered some words of wisdom to the boys at the end of the prize giving ceremony.
He said: “Read and read a lot. The way you speak and the words you use, it tells someone a lot about you. Reading helps to improve your vocabulary and also helps you to express yourself better.”
Fearon, who is also a counselor at BTC, expressed great pleasure with the initiative by the Big Brothers and Sisters. Commenting on the competition, he said: “It is not surprising Team D came out on top. They practiced relentlessly. If you put in the effort you will reap rewards. Use this as an opportunity to learn that hard work does pay off.”
After sincerely thanking members of the group for their work with the wards, Fearon took the opportunity to highlight the positive effect the Big Brothers and Sisters have been having on the wards.
He said: “We have this divide in our society-them and us. I hope that at this stage you would appreciate what has been accomplished with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. This group comprises magistrates, lawyers, police officers, and other people in society who would be considered privileged. To have mentors of that status interacting with the wards has helped to show them there is not much difference between us.
This is what our society needs. You are your brother’s keeper. Your brothers are the lawyers and the magistrates and the officers and the teachers. This is a wonderful program. When we talk about crime prevention, this is what we are talking about. This is the real future.”