Young Achiever: Jah-nai the public speaker
Jah-nai Smith will represent Bermuda in an upcoming faith conference after his flair for public speaking earned him the title of Youth of the Year.
The 16-year-old won the accolade when he helped to lead a sermon at a Youth of the Year talent night during the African Methodist Episcopal Conference this month.
He said: “The crux of my sermon was that you need to have certain things in your life to build a relationship and be restored by Jesus.
“Restoration, in my own words, is how we can be healed and have a new beginning in life, so I talked about how that can be reached by understanding the word of God and speaking positivity into people's lives.”
Jah-nai, from St George's, said that he had been speaking publicly for about six years after he addressed his graduation ceremony at Francis Patton Primary School.
He added that his gift became further evident during his graduation from Clearwater Middle School when he delivered another speech to an audience of more than 300 people.
Jah-nai said: “It wasn't really a passion of mine at first, but I got used to it, and once I got comfortable it wasn't a big deal to speak in front of crowds.
“From there on I integrated more speaking into my life when I started reading scripture and notices at my church.”
The Berkeley Institute pupil said that at first he didn't plan to apply to the Youth of the Year programme.
He explained: “I didn't really want to sign up, but my church wanted me to do it and I went along with it.
“Once I started it, I enjoyed it and had a passion for it.”
Jah-nai said that his application comprised a résumé, a written test and a talent competition, which took place at the AME Conference on March 8.
He admitted: “It was very scary because I've never done anything big for my church like this — I always spoke inside my church, I never went outside of my church and spoke.
“But once I went up on stage, I got more comfortable after a minute or so.” He added that once his name got called he felt “excited, but I was humble about it”.
Jah-nai said: “I didn't want to go ‘I won, I won', so I was calm about it.
“But he was hyping me up and said ‘go ahead, celebrate'.”
Jah-nai will travel in July to the First Episcopal District Christian Education Congress in Delaware. There he will meet with six other representatives from the northeastern sector of the United States for workshops and recreational activities.
He said: “It's going to be a great trip and I just think that it will give me a good outlook on life.”