The good, the great and the downright outstanding
It cannot be easy being a young person approaching adulthood — in this or any generation. On one hand being told that you are the future while on the other having some “long in the tooth” know-it-all highlight your inexperience has to be utterly frustrating. It is no wonder the words “rebellious” and “youth” are inextricably linked.
We have enough problems with misguided youth, troubled youth, troublesome youth, uneducated youth, criminal youth — often they are one and the same — but, believe it or not, what should cause us as much angst are the relationships we have with the young in our community who actually give a damn and who have the wherewithal to effect change far sooner than projected.
While doing whatever is possible to ensure that the rest catch up to the point of fulfilling potential, those relationships with our “future leaders” — dare we say leaders of today — should be nurtured, protected and not cast to one side for convenience.
There is much to be said for experience, but that means little if you lack the wisdom to give pause and to listen, and the capacity to be beguiled by a relative neophyte. So many of our young people have fantastic minds and voices, and are worthy of being listened to — not simply heard.
Like adults, they should also be subject to criticism — not as a means of being shunted to one side, but rather for the “constructive” that “grown-ups” so demand at the precipice of throwing their toys out of the pram.
Teen Services, for so long synonymous with helping young women and young men to cope with the fallout of unplanned pregnancies through its offshoot Teen Haven, has made it so that Bermuda’s youth are not shunted to one side — for 34 years!
That is how long the quite outstanding Outstanding Teen Awards have been in existence.
With this year being the group’s golden jubilee, it is understandable why the organisers were determined to pull out all the stops so that the 111 honourees could feel truly honoured at the Greater Heritage Worship Centre in Hamilton on Saturday night.
Assisted by scores of volunteers, including judges and interviewers, executive director Michelle Wade, caseworker Zena Francis and Lorna Reid, who splits her time between human resources and accounts, have pulled off a masterstroke.
They put themselves on the right path from the onset on Saturday, with the shrewd signing of the esteemed comedian Nadanja Bailey as emcee. His byplay with Michael Dunkley included, Bailey kept it lively, serious when needed and, most of all, he had the audience in stitches — for laughter is the language of the soul.
But, with a playful nod to the Premier, the stars of the show were our young people.
Recognised for academic and sporting achievement, community and spiritual awareness, appreciation of the arts, and for perseverance against odds that those so young should not have to overcome, they came in all shapes and sizes, and all shades of grey. But what rang through most was that the applause for each and every winner was resounding and heartfelt — until we had the loudest cheer of all for overall winner Megan Zimmerer.
And it is with Miss Zimmerer in mind that we digress to offer a profuse apology because of an unfortunate misstep on Tuesday relating to the publication of a photograph that included her, Amy Palmer and Zoe Lopes — all “the lighter shade of grey” — and no others. Owing to the absence of additional images, and the conversation that we rather not speak of but which needs to be had, many feathers were ruffled — and rightly so.
In the glare amid all the noise were three young women who deserved to be applauded for their achievements, not used as poster fodder for what ails Bermuda’s adult population.
They and their peers have had fantastic years, and that is how this chapter should end — with wholehearted congratulations to them, their parents and the many teachers and mentors who have helped to propel them towards their next phase of enlightenment.
You are all winners ...
The full list of 111 nominees for the 34th Annual Outstanding Teen Awards, held at the Greater Heritage Worship Centre in Hamilton and presented by Teen Services, is as follows (in alphabetical order, with awards in parentheses where applicable):
Jon K. Adams
Samuel Booth (spiritual leadership award)
Stephan Dill (perseverance award)
Kayla Dowling (community service and spiritual leadership awards)
Lauren Genevieve (leadership and performing arts awards)
Robin Horsfield (vocational technical arts award)
Zoe Lopes (visual arts award)
Elizabeth Madeiros (sports award)
Jomeko Mallory (most progress award)
Christopher Malpas (sports award)
Hannah Marshall (special recognition award)
Zachary Myers (academic achievement and performing arts awards)
Amy Palmer (vocational technical arts award)
Nicholas Roach (visual arts award)
W. Aaron Spencer II
Megan Sutcliffe (academic achievement award)
Eduardo Vieira Jr
Anthony Whaley (community service award)
Chefanices Williams (perseverance award)
Theo Wolffe (leadership award)
Shequilla Young (most progress award)
Megan Zimmerer (outstanding overall award)
Congratulations to you all!
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