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MPowerTT Masters (L-R) Kervell Baird; Christophe Braithwaite; Kerron ‘Sunny Blingg’ Sealey; Mtima Solwazi and Andrew Lewis share on the topic: ‘Creating a Culture of Respect.’

On Thursday 23 July, 2020, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs brought a cohort of young men from communities and youth groups together with five Masters, to discuss “Creating a Culture of Respect”, at the Central Regional Indoor Sporting Arena, Chaguanas.

This was the 7th MZone (Male Friendly Zone) of the MPower TT programme –a youth initiative by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs in collaboration with Los Gents TT, which focuses on the empowerment and mentorship of young men between the ages of 16 and 29 years.

Thursday’s MZone was executed in accordance with the COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines and was streamed via Facebook Live, to attract a wider audience. The session, led by host Keevan ‘Keevo’ Lewis, had a panel comprising: Kervell Baird – Educator; Christophe Braithwaite – Attorney at Law; Kerron ‘Sunny Blingg’ Sealey – Media Personality and Host; Mtima Solwazi – Youth and Community Activist and Andrew Lewis – Olympic Sailing Athlete.

The discussion began with the Masters sharing their understanding of respect. One of the participants, who shared his view, asked; “As youth, how are we supposed to give respect if we don’t get respect?” Solwazi responded saying, “Many times adults interpret assertive youth as disrespectful but as elders we have to check ourselves.”

‘Sunny Blingg’ encouraged the youth in attendance by pointing out, “Self-respect is a starting point for all respect. You need to be mindful of what you post on social media.” Kervell Baird added, “Culture is created by the behavior you repeat. Continue saying good morning even if no one answers you; continue having self-respect. Continue being a gentleman. That is how you create a culture of respect.”

Andrew Lewis also weighed in with his experience of living abroad, “As a Trinbagonian, I love how we enter a space and say ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Afternoon.’ I have learnt that this is a huge sign of respect. I feel very proud of Trinidad and Tobago for having that unique culture. We should never lose that trait of what our country has given us.”

The discussion led both participants and Masters to share on the times they felt disrespected and how they dealt with it. The session closed with the young men sharing how they show respect, which included good manners; controlling their reactions and treating people at all levels with courtesy. The MZone ended with Christophe Braithwaite asking young men to repeat “I respect me and I will respect others.”

The participants were spirited in their response to the programme. One 17 year old participant shared, “It was good to spend the evening learning about positive things. I learnt that I need to show more respect to people.”

A group of young men from the Brechin Castle Sports United called the session “inspiring” and they were “happy to hear the stories from the other young men and Masters in attendance.” One young man explained that he now understood that “respect has a lot to do with keeping my composure in antagonistic situations.”

The MpowerTT Programme will continue with 5 more MZones. The following sessions will be streamed live on Facebook on the MPower TT page:

  • Challenging Toxic Masculinity on Tuesday 28th July, 2020 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
  • Crime and Gang Violence on Thursday 30th July, 2020 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship on Thursday 6th August, 2020 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Grooming, Hygiene and Personal Care on Thursday 13th August, 2020 from 2:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Open Session on Thursday 20th August, 2020 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
In Discussion: One participant poses a question to the MPower TT Masters at Thursday’s MZone in Chaguanas
Listening and Learning: Participants found the MZone to be inspiring and instructive

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