KINGSTON – Kofi Walker, director of Artists in Residency Performing Arts After-School Activities (AIR-PAASA) and his colleague Travis Henry held a workshop for the students at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), on Friday.
AIR-PAASA teaches performing and visual art programs in rural schools, in particular for students with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges.
“My philosophy is to encourage people to find their strengths and find their own voice,” said Walker.
The workshop allowed the girls to express issues surrounding being a teen mother in Jamaica, striving to be the best they can be in this society and escaping from poverty. The students developed poems that spoke on how to overcome the obstacles they face.
“We provided them with guidance but the poetry, acting and dance steps all came from them,” said Walker.
Walker expressed his gratitude for being able to contribute towards a pertinent issue in Jamaica and said, “Being a teen mom in Jamaica is not easy. They [the adolescent mothers] are the lucky ones having a facility that they can attend, and continue their education.”
“I am particularly proud to be a part of this with the girls today because of how they approached the exercises that they were given.”
“Some were intimidated at the beginning, some said they just can’t do it, but by the end of the session they were all performing in front of each other,” said Walker.
The workshop aimed to build their self-confidence and created a motivational environment amongst the students.
“What is it that you want out of any young person? You want them to become confident and also you want them to understand that they can be leaders in their own right.”