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Sandals Whitehouse Inspiring Young Poets

Written by Staff Writer

Sandals Whitehouse recently brought the curtains down on its second annual Poetry and Presentation Camp with what can only be described as a heart-warming poetic journey into the mind of a child.

The ‘journey’; a poetry showcase and competition – culminating six exciting days of learning, creating and expressing – featured 22 aspiring young poets ranging from ages seven to 16. Participants presented a selection of original pieces with titles like; Confidence, Church People, Drugs and Jamaica Crime Free, which spoke to a myriad of topics from social issues and ills to emotions. Each piece was judged on creativity, use of words and presentation.

Shadayne  Ebanks, whose piece Nowadays Clothes won the prize for most creative in the 10-16 age group, is a second-time participant who says the Poetry and Presentation camp is a ‘good initiative’.

“I attended the camp last year,” she said, “I love creative writing and the opportunity to share my thoughts and learn how to properly put them on paper was definitely a plus, but I still had problems with presenting. Throughout this year’s camp however, I’ve gained more confidence and I believe this new-found confidence will certainly help me in other areas of my life for years to come.”

The Poetry and Presentation camp ran throughout July 18-23 and impacted some 50 kids from Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth.

Throughout the week, English Teachers Sheree Campbell and Evonie Blake exposed the campers to various forms of creative writing and explored the use of personification, rhyming words, mood and metaphor. They also expounded on different types of poems, the use of figurative language to convey vivid images and the effective use of words to create mood.

Earlier in the week, campers were treated to a sampling of the work of local poets, including writers on the Sandals Whitehouse Management team and Westmoreland-based poet Haile McKaile, who spoke about the use of poetry and other forms of creative writing as a means of self-expression and activism.

Guidance Counsellor, Natalie Sterling, one of four presenters who shared with the campers throughout the six-day experience, also spoke about ‘self-expression’ in her session entitled Building emotional Awareness; taming the aggression. While former Sandals Whitehouse General Manager, Courtney Miller was also on hand to speak with the campers about the importance of believing in themselves and their abilities.

For many campers, one of the week’s highlights was a spirited microphone training and practice session with music teacher and JCDC Gold Medalist, Ramon Dennis.

JCDC Central Regional Manager, Casmarine Daley also provided tips on overcoming fear and general stage presentation.

According to Evonie Blake, one of two English teachers at the camp, who is herself no stranger to the performance arena, this year’s camp was certainly one of substance. “The children learnt a lot, not only as it relates to writing poems but also presentation, how to be more assertive, how to speak properly and overall how to conduct themselves. The majority of them [students] were really attentive to the lessons, it’s obvious that they enjoy poetry and they got excited about sharing their pieces,” she said.

Blake applauded Sandals Whitehouse for their efforts in seeing the idea of the Poetry and Presentation camp through to its second year. “This initiative should be continued because of the impact that it has on the children, and especially because children need this kind of engagement throughout the summer.”

The Poetry and Presentation camp was conceptualized by Sandals Whitehouse former General Manager, Courtney Miller and planned and executed by the resort’s Public Relations office. This year’s camp was supported by the Sandals Foundation and Sound Illusion Entertainment.

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Staff Writer