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Caribbean & World

Laluna scholarship supports NEWLO students



by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Laluna provided transportation scholarships to five NEWLO students
  • Transportation costs can amount to over $3,000 per year

The Laluna Boutique Beach Hotel and Villas scholarship recipients attending New Life Organisation (NEWLO) said they are constantly faced with having to overcome adversity.

For Shamol Collins of Park View, Gouyave, St John, this reality is all too real. He recalled his experiences growing up in a single-parent household of 3 children, with no father-figure. Most times he skipped school to allow his younger sister to attend school. “My father was not there to support me so it was hard for my mother because 3 of us were going to school. It was hard for her to get the money to send all of us to go to school. It had some days I just had to stay home because I had to look after my sister and my brother to go to school,” Collins said.

For students who reside far away, transportation costs to attend NEWLO can amount to over $3,000 per year; a weighty consideration, since most students come from single-parent households.

Collins and 4 other students at NEWLO have been chosen to be ambassadors of Laluna. This means they will each receive financial support of $4,000 to cover their expenses for the duration of their courses.

Collins, who is pursuing a certification in restaurant and bar within the hospitality department, said he plans to take full advantage, as he aspires to become an interior decorator. “The scholarship I must say is a good head start because from where I was before it is not where I am today. From the day I got it, I was very excited. My parents were excited, even my class teacher was excited, and I am taking advantage of this wonderful experience and I hope to be an interior decorator and also a bartender,” he said.

Sharing similar experiences growing up in a single-parent household among 6 children, Rineka Thomas from St Patrick, who now resides in St David, is set on becoming a professional chef. Thomas is pursuing certification within the commercial food preparation department and has acted upon the advice of her mother to put her best foot forward. She recalled the struggles to attain education with little financial support.

“My family is just my mother alone and 6 of us, so the challenges were very hard financially. We had to strive in every aspect of life to accomplish different things, but if you put your best foot forward as my mother told us…it will bring us to where we want to reach in life. So I try as much as possible to do that, so that’s why I think I got the scholarship.” Thomas looks forward to interning at Laluna upon her completion at NEWLO. “The scholarship is a good help I must say. I’d like to be a professional chef so when I graduate from here, hopefully, I receive an internship with Mr [Bernardo] Bertucci and his family for 5 years and after that, I want to develop more on my skills and further my studies.”

Before receiving the scholarship, Christy Alexis of Woodlands St George complained of not having sufficient transportation allowance to get to school. “We had problems getting transportation fees because it is both of us; because it is not me alone, it is both of us and it is kind of hard on my parents to get the money every week for us to come to school.” Alexis promised to work even harder to ensure that the scholarship is retained and she looks forward to being employed in a five-star restaurant. “After I graduate from NEWLO, I’d like to work in a very expensive five-star hotel to show out my skills and training that I got from NEWLO, and to further my education abroad and seek jobs in other places.”

Executive Director of NEWLO, Sister Margaret Yamoah, hopes that in the future more students from various departments at NEWLO can benefit from this scholarship opportunity. She said as much is given, much will be expected of these students. “We expect the best in everything that they do… but more importantly for me [is] how serviceable they become to the NEWLO community and their families because we are not training them to be selfish only to gain for themselves. This support that they are getting is to assist their families, and we also want to see them after they have finished NEWLO to be gainfully employed or get themselves involved in their very own small business,” Sister Margaret said.

She said these five students were chosen because of their internal motivation to succeed despite the challenges. “If you work with young, vulnerable people, they need a lot of motivation to be able to keep them going, and I can say that these five have found that and that is the reason why we selected them because despite their challenges they have that internal motivation that is keeping them going.”

The other two Laluna scholarship recipients are Summer Charles and Reannah Felix.

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Caribbean & World

Prime Minister to oversee Caricom technical committee negotiating elimination of roaming rates




Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, will have technical oversight of a Caricom Technical Committee that will conduct negotiations to eliminate roaming rates in the region.

This decision was among those taken at the just concluded 31st Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, which was attended by Dr Mitchell and Minister for Trade, Industry, Cooperatives and Caricom Affairs, Honourable Oliver Joseph.

In the communique issued at the conclusion of the meeting, Caricom Heads identified the removal of roaming rates in the Caribbean as one of the key components of efforts being made toward digital transformation and building technological resilience.

According to the communique, “Heads of Government welcomed the efforts of the Rt Hon. Dr Keith Mitchell, Lead Head of Government for Science and Technology who along with Colleague Heads, are advocating for the telecommunications operators to institute a modest fixed single Caricom roaming rate for Caricom nationals. The rate would include local and regional voice calls, data and over time will include more services.”

The removal of roaming rates is regarded as a priority intervention for 2020.

In Grenada’s presentation to the meeting on the subject, the Prime Minister called for unity and the unwavering support of all Caricom leaders in the negotiations with telecommunications providers to remove roaming charges. He noted that “historically, telecoms provision has been used as a subtle tool to attempt to divide the region and we must guard against this, in this round of negotiations.”

Dr Mitchell cited critical information gaps that must be addressed, even before the start of negotiations and he called on fellow Heads of Government to work with their Ministers of ICT and national regulators, to provide any available information as soon as possible and to support the actions of the negotiations team.

The basis for the negotiations will be founded in the development of the Caricom Single ICT Space, which in turn, is at the core of building technological resilience in the region.

The Grenadian leader told fellow Caribbean leaders attending the meeting that, “while the removal of roaming rates is a lynchpin for our digital hopes for transformation of the region — digital transformation is multi-dimensional and therefore, while we have identified removal of roaming and zero-rating government websites — there are many other strands which must be addressed and which will help to improve our negotiation posture and which must be very visible to the watching world.”

Dr Mitchell highlighted the fact that digital transformation starts with digital leadership which will, in turn, facilitate greater awareness among Caribbean nationals. He said, “We have to start talking about digital transformation in our meetings and it should be present in our various utterances to our citizens. Our citizens must be aware of our regional digital transformation goals and how they are given life by what we say and more importantly do, nationally.”

Office of the Prime Minister

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Caribbean & World

57-year-old bodybuilder promotes maintaining a healthy body




by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • 57-year-old bodybuilder Leslie ‘Strongman’ Hutchinson has the physique of a 30-year-old
  • Competed in several bodybuilding competitions without protein powders and other supplements for muscle growth
  • Outfitted his home gym is with equipment made from readily available materials

Although not having the bulging muscles mass in comparison to the likes of local professional bodybuilders Damion Daniel or Hafid Tyrone James, 57-year-old bodybuilder Leslie ‘Strongman’ Hutchinson has the physique of a 30-year-old. He boasts of being able to compete with the best without the use of protein powders and other supplements for muscle growth.

But what’s even more interesting about Hutchinson, who is from the village of Telescope in St Andrew, is that he was able to maintain his daily training and powerlifting regimen and still be the proud father of 22 children with his wife of over 14 years, Delma.

Hutchinson fell in love with bodybuilding in 1983 and has since gone on to partake in several strongman competitions for which he has trophies and medals to show, despite not being able to afford the expertise of local trainers or specialised professional equipment. Hutchinson did not allow this to stop him and constructed his personal home gym outfitted with equipment made using readily available materials.

In his middle age years, Hutchinson was witnessed bench pressing upwards of 300 lbs, curling dumbbells weighing 100 lbs and leg pressing over 500 lbs. He said, “I still keep the discipline and principle of bodybuilding and I all the time tell guys that a gym is no place for jokers and idlers because when it comes to the gym it is serious business.”

He admitted that bodybuilding was an escape from the temptation of overindulging in alcohol which was and still is quite prevalent within the community. “The time I go and sit down by the block and drink rum with friends, the same friend who may turn around and burst my head after I had the rum with him, I should go to the gym. So when I to the gym and train when 10 pm all rum shops close and in doing so my friends hardly seeing me, because every evening after I finish work, I head straight to the gym,” he said.

Image of bodybuilder Leslie ‘Strongman’ Hutchinson training in the early 90s at his home gym.

During the span of his passion, Hutchinson competed in several bodybuilding competitions including placing 1st in the Return of Legion in heavyweight category; 1st in Mr Grenada Middleweight category in 2009; 2nd place in the St Andrew’s South West Father’s Day Best Talent Competition and 2nd place in Grenada Olympia Clash of the Titans 2015 Lightweight category. While most bodybuilders garner sponsors to assist in preparation for the competitions, Hutchinson said his wife Delma, has been his main supporter and sponsor since as a poor man he is unable to afford the luxuries afforded to bodybuilders who can get cooperate sponsorship. He constantly speaks of being in good health which he attributes to eating healthy foods especially ground provisions in small portions. He also frowns upon the use of supplements to promote muscle growth.

“On mornings, I get a cup of black sage water and roast fig with a tip of salt and I am good for the day. I eat a lot of green fig, yam, breadfruit and tannia. I would tell bodybuilders to eat natural and stay healthy like me. I will have 2 eggs for the morning maybe once a week because I am a poor man and I have never gotten any sponsors. If I need any sponsor I have to call on my wife and I all-time say to her we are not begging anybody, what little we have we will make it do.”

Hutchinson who weighs 170 lbs is closely approaching his 58th birthday and still manages to spend up to 3 hours in his gym every evening while maintaining a full-time job as a security guard for Gravel and Concrete Production Corporation.

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Caribbean & World

World failing to provide children with a healthy life and a climate fit for their future: WHO-UNICEF-Lancet




As climate and commercial threats intensify, WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission presses for radical rethink on child health

No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures, finds a landmark report released today by a Commission of over 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The Commission was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and The Lancet. 

The report, A Future for the World’s Children?, finds that the health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children. 

“Despite improvements in child and adolescent health over the past 20 years, progress has stalled, and is set to reverse,” said former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Co-Chair of the Commission, Helen Clark. “It has been estimated that around 250 million children under five years old in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential, based on proxy measures of stunting and poverty. But of even greater concern, every child worldwide now faces existential threats from climate change and commercial pressures.

“Countries need to overhaul their approach to child and adolescent health, to ensure that we not only look after our children today but protect the world they will inherit in the future,” she added.

Intensifying climate change threatens every child’s future

The report includes a new global index of 180 countries, comparing performance on child flourishing, including measures of child survival and well-being, such as health, education, and nutrition; sustainability, with a proxy for greenhouse gas emissions, and equity, or income gaps. [Top & Bottom 10 countries; Full Global Index on pp. 35-38] [1]

According to the report, while the poorest countries need to do more to support their children’s ability to live healthy lives, excessive carbon emissions – disproportionately from wealthier countries –  threaten the future of all children. If global warming exceeds 4°C by the year 2100 in line with current projections, this would lead to devastating health consequences for children, due to rising ocean levels, heatwaves, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, and malnutrition. 

The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea, and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds. However, when authors took per capita CO2 emissions into account, the top countries trail behind: Norway ranked 156, the Republic of Korea 166, and the Netherlands 160. Each of the three emits 210% more CO2 per capita than their 2030 target. The United States of America (USA), Australia, and Saudi Arabia are among the ten worst emitters.  

“More than 2 billion people live in countries where development is hampered by humanitarian crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, problems increasingly linked with climate change,” said Minister Awa Coll-Seck from Senegal, Co-Chair of the Commission. “While some of the poorest countries have among the lowest CO2 emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Promoting better conditions today for children to survive and thrive nationally does not have to come at the cost of eroding children’s futures globally.”    

The only countries on track to beat CO2 emission per capita targets by 2030, while also performing fairly (within the top 70) on child flourishing measures are: Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Viet Nam.

Harmful commercial marketing preys on children – with childhood obesity increasing 11-fold

The report also highlights the distinct threat posed to children from harmful marketing. Evidence suggests that children in some countries see as many as 30,000 advertisements on television alone in a single year, while youth exposure to vaping (e-cigarettes) advertisements increased by more than 250% in the USA over two years, reaching more than 24 million young people. 

Professor Anthony Costello, one of the Commission’s authors, said: “Industry self-regulation has failed. Studies in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA – among many others – have shown that self-regulation has not hampered commercial ability to advertise to children. For example, despite industry signing up to self-regulation in Australia, children and adolescent viewers were still exposed to 51 million alcohol ads during just one year of televised football, cricket and rugby. And the reality could be much worse still: we have few facts and figures about the huge expansion of social media advertising and algorithms aimed at our children.”

Children’s exposure to commercial marketing of junk food and sugary beverages is associated with purchase of unhealthy foods and overweight and obesity, linking predatory marketing to the alarming rise in childhood obesity. The number of obese children and adolescents increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 – an 11-fold increase, with dire individual and societal costs.

A manifesto for immediate action on child and adolescent healt

To protect children, the independent Commission authors call for a new global movement driven by and for children. Specific recommendations include:

  1. Stop CO2 emissions with the utmost urgency, to ensure children have a future on this planet;
  2. Place children and adolescents at the centre of our efforts to achieve sustainable development;
  3. New policies and investment in all sectors to work towards child health and rights;
  4. Incorporate children’s voices into policy decisions;
  5. Tighten national regulation of harmful commercial marketing, supported by a new Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet family of journals, said: “The opportunity is great. The evidence is available. The tools are at hand. From heads-of-state to local government, from UN leaders to children themselves, this Commission
calls for the birth of a new era for child and adolescent health. It will take courage and commitment to deliver. It is the supreme test of our generation.” 

“From the climate crisis to obesity and harmful commercial marketing, children around the world are having to contend with threats that were unimaginable just a few generations ago,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “It
is time for a rethink on child health, one which places children at the top of every government’s development agenda and puts their well-being above all considerations.” 

“This report shows that the world’s decision makers are, too often, failing today’s children and youth: failing to protect their health, failing to protect their rights, and failing to protect their planet,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director-General of the World Health Organization said. “This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.”

Notes to editors

[1] About the index; please see pp. 35-38 of the report, with technical details in the Annex, pp. 19-72

[2] This Commission was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


For more information or to set up interviews with report authors, please contact any of the listed media contacts.

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