‘Create an Environment Where Helmets are Protective and not Decorative’ – Claudine Allen 

Claudine Allen, the general manager of the JN Foundation, says while compliance is vital to increasing helmet usage among cyclists and pillions in Jamaica, simply achieving greater use of the gears alone will not safeguard against injury and fatalities.   

“Behaviour change is a part of the solution, but we have to create an environment where the helmets that are available are protective, not decorative and are going to save lives,” the JN executive underscored. 

Ms Allen made the statement during a courtesy call recently on Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Daryl Vaz. She was accompanied by Aggie Krasnolucka, programmes director of the FIA Foundation, an international charity, working closely with grant partners to shape projects and advocate to secure change in policy and practice.  

Ms Krasnolucka was on a visit to Jamaica to sign an agreement with the National Road Safety Council and the JN Foundation to implement the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project, which seeks to increase helmet wearing among riders and pillions, increase the use of approved helmets, as well as stimulate a local market for helmets. 

Ms Allen said the National Helmet Wearing Coalition, which comprises stakeholders in road safety and mobility, will assist in addressing the widespread issues pertaining to the regulatory standards for helmets and enforcement, as well as awareness among cyclists and pillion. 

In his response, Minister Vaz said a public education campaign is necessary to promote helmet wearing. 

“A big part of any initiative would be the public education component because these youngsters do not listen easily and it is very difficult to get them to comply,” he said as he commended the initiative to be undertaken. 

Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council, noted that while motorcycle deaths have been trending downward since 2021, the figures are still a major concern. 

“It has been coming down, but it is still a third of national statistics, so that is still significant,” she pointed out. 

The National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project was established under a three-year agreement valued at $750,000 euro last month. 

The first phase of the project will commence with the execution of research to provide baseline data that will inform the work of the project going forward. A comprehensive stakeholder mapping and engagement exercise will then be undertaken to examine and understand the situation relating to helmets and helmet wearing in Jamaica. 

According to the National Road Safety Council, since 2015, approximately 1,238 motorcyclists up to September 13 have been killed on roads in Jamaica.  All were men. Data from the Ministry of Transport and the Jamaica Constabulary Force indicate that these deaths account for approximately 30 per cent of total deaths caused by road crashes in Jamaica over the period, and that over 90 per cent of those who died were not wearing a helmet.  

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Students, Fine Art Photographer Winners in JN Foundation Jamaica 60 Photo Competition 

Photo Caption: Earl Jarrett (second right in back), chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group and Claudine Allen (at right, front row) take a group photo with winners of the JN Foundation Jamaica 60 Photo Competition – Gerald Gordon (second left, front row), first place winner in the Greatness in People Category and Advocacy Award, he also placed third in the Greatness in Community Category; Kaodi Allen (third left), winner of the Greatness in Community Category; Sharlene Higgins (fourth left, front row), who placed second in the Greatness in Community Category and Tevaughn Gordon, brother of Joshua Gordon who won the People’s Choice Award and placed second in the Greatness in People Category. Sharing in the moment are Radcliffe ‘Ruddy’ Roye (left in the back), photo journalist and one of the trainers; Stuart Reeves (second left, back row), one of the trainers; Shanti Persaud (third right, back row), one of  the judges and Omar Wright, lead, Environment and Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation. Occasion was the awards ceremony which took place at the Corporate Offices of the Jamaica National Group on Oxford Road in Kingston on August 30.

Seventeen-year-old, Kodia Allen, a sixth form student at Manchester High School; Gerald Gordon, fine art photographer; and Joshua Gordon, a third-year student at the University of Technology, Jamaica, emerged winners of the JN Foundation Jamaica 60 photo competition. 

The awards ceremony took place recently at the JN Group Corporate offices on Oxford Road in Kingston. 

While winning a major competition of this nature is not new to Gerald Gordon and Joshua Gordon, who are both unrelated, this is the first time Kodia has emerged a winner. 

“I feel elated, and it has taught me patience. The patience was worth it as I came out on top and I’m excited,” said Kodia, winner in the ‘Greatness in Community’ category. 

Her winning image, entitled ‘Uncountable Badges’ captured her friends helping the newly-elected Jamaica Prefects Association (JPA) president, Gabrielle Bryan, with her badges on the joyous occasion. She said for her that moment of friendship and unity was a very powerful form of advocacy.  

Parris Lyew-Ayee (right), chairman of the JN Foundation is fascinated by one of the photos on display at the JN Foundation Jamaica 60 Photo Competition awards ceremony. Looking on is Radcliffe ‘Ruddy’ Roye, Jamaican documentary photographer.

“I was inspired by friendship at its finest. I followed my friend to support her in being elected JPA president and just seeing the process, especially behind the scenes, I just decided not to wait on the limelight but take the picture behind the scenes, working up to the moment that we all looked forward to seeing,” she said underscoring the value of friendship. 

Kodia’s words of advice to persons interested in photography are simple- ‘always be armed with your camera’. She hopes to, one day, take up photography as a business. 

Gerald Gordon is not new to winning. He was the winner of the Prime Minister’s Calendar Photo Opportunity Competition in 2021 and The Gleaner’s Capturing Kingston Photo Competition in 2018. He is however still excited about his latest accomplishment. 

“I’m lost for words, but I’m bursting with joy inside,” he said shortly after being named the winner of the ‘Greatness in People’ category for his piece ‘My Honest Bread’. He also received two other awards, winning the Advocacy Award with the same entry and was placed third in the Greatness in Community category for his submission, ‘The Future of Sports’. 

Earl Jarrett (right), chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group congratulates Kaodi Allen (centre) , winner of the Greatness in Community Category and her mother, Claudia Allen.

His winning shot, ‘My Honest Bread’ captures Venessa, a vendor from Greater Portmore, St Catherine, and her daughter pushing her stocked cart of goods. Both mother and daughter routinely perform this task just before Venessa’s daughter goes to school each day.  

“I was in a car with my friends returning home, and when I saw the scene, I said to my friend ‘stop the car’ and when I saw the shot, I said ‘this is it’. In fact, I took the photo on the morning of the deadline for submission of the photo,” he informed noting that Vanessa’s action of earning an honest living was a form of advocacy. 

Gordon, who has a photography business, said that the knowledge gained from participating in the competition will help him to produce better quality work. 

“Photography is my bread and butter, and I’m happy to have gained further knowledge about my craft through the masterclasses conducted by the trainers. My mind is now rushing with ideas and the knowledge that was imparted,” he said.  

“As a fine arts photographer, myself, I dive into the theory of photography telling stories through my lens, and I’m seeing it from a different perspective now,” he said. 

Joshua Gordon, who had previously emerged second place winner of the JN Resolution ProjectCOVID-19 Jamaica Photography Competition in 2020/21, said that he was happy to be a winner again. He won the People’s Choice award with his piece entitled ‘Salute to 60’, which captured a cadet from Clarendon College as he raised his hand to his head in salute at an event to mark the high school’s Founder’s Day on February 2 this year.  

“This image stood out mainly because of the significance of the ceremony, the patriotism, and the angle. The cadet’s salute represents us Jamaicans showing respect and love to our country, which was simply iconic,” he said. 

Congratulating the winners, Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, expressed hope that the competition would spark more advocacy for causes that will positively impact the country. 

“We wanted this competition not to be just something that you came across on social media where you enter, and you win some money, but we wanted to leave with you a lesson. We wanted to build the capacity for the skill and art of photography but also advocacy,” she said, noting that the competition attracted close to 500 entries. 

“We hope that you heard something that will reassure you and give you hope. But we hope you heard something that made you uncomfortable and feed that thing inside you to bring you out of the box that you are in and to tell your story differently,” she said, noting that the competition provided a platform for the participants to amplify their voice and advocacy. 

The JN Foundation launched the Jamaica 60 Photo Competition in 2022 in celebration of Jamaica’s 60th year of Independence. The competition invited persons passionate about photography and community advocacy to enter.  

The aim of the competition was to equip and train Jamaicans in the art of photography and advocacy. The competition focused on celebrating Jamaica’s 60th year of independence, under the theme Greatness Through the Lens, an ode to the national theme Re-igniting a Nation for Greatness.   

First place winners received cash prize of $100,000, second place $50,000 and third place $25,000. Other winners in the competition were Javan Sutherland who placed third in the ‘Greatness in People’ category and Sharlene Higgins who placed second in the ‘Greatness in Community’ category. 

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JN Foundation Invites Application for Grant Funding to Improve Communities

Photo Caption: The JN Foundation presented the Cross Keys Development Area Committee (DAC) with a deep fryer and commercial slicer for its agro-processing facility and a pavilion stand in Cross Keys, Manchester, last year. On hand to make the presentation to members of the Cross Keys DAC are Alethia Peart (second left), business relationship and sales manager at JN Bank; and Dawnette Pryce-Thompson (fifth right), project coordinator, JN Foundation.

The JN Foundation is inviting chapters of the JN Circle across the island to submit proposals for projects that will improve their communities. Successful applications could access grant funding of up to J$1.5 million to address issues related to youth and education, road safety, environmental and climate issues, financial inclusion, and literacy.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, notes that the Foundation’s commitment goes beyond mere grant funding. Noting the capacity development sessions held for members of the JN Circle, was intentionally actioned to empower members to discern and define projects, sharpen proposal writing skills, and gain project management proficiency.

“The intention is to strengthen capacity at the community level, so that our members may capitalise on opportunities to partner with other funding organisations in their work to improve their own outcomes,” she said.

Pointing to sustainability and collective benefit as a priority, Ms Allen added, “We want project proposals that are also impactful for groups of people; and are designed in a manner which ensures longevity,” she noted. The deadline for the submission of proposals is August 31.

For proposals to be considered, they must meet the following criteria: projects must fit within the themes/focal areas; they must be sustainable and impactful; should have measurable and realistic outcomes; and the project budget should be aligned with the grant amount.

Dr Powell Sydney (left), senior medical officer at the Port Maria Hospital demonstrates how the pulse machine works to Jennifer Martin, board director of the JN Foundation at the handover ceremony last year.

She urged persons to visit the JN Circle website at www.myjncircle.com to learn about the JN Circle and join a local chapter so that they can be a part of an initiative in their community.

“There is a JN Circle attached to a JN Bank branch in every parish. As a member of a JN Circle, you can work with other JN members to make a difference and improve your community, “she said.

The JN Foundation established a pool of funds, to be accessed by chapters of the JN Circle, to fund initiatives that will serve to improve their communities. A selection committee is in place to review applications and determine the winning projects.

Last year, the JN Foundation awarded some $8.3 million for funding projects developed by members of the JN Circle, successfully implementing seven community related projects across the island. The projects that were awarded grants included a skills training centre spearheaded by the Ocho Rios Baptist Church and the Rotary Club of Ocho Rios; the Port Maria Hospital in St. Mary also benefitted from the grant funding with the donation of medical equipment, such as an ECG machine, pulse oximeters and a defibrillator.

Through the work of the JN Circle Junction chapter, the Bull Savannah Primary and Junior High School in St. Elizabeth was awarded funding to furnish an existing open-air lunchroom that caters to some 40 students. The Lucea Circle, assisted the Maryland Primary and Infant School in Hanover to obtain tablets that were used as loaners to students in need. The devices assisted them with accessing lessons remotely, when necessary and provide access to online resources.

Cross Keys and surrounding communities in southern Manchester benefitted from a grant won by the Mandeville Circle, to boost an agro-processing facility and improve a community centre. The Spanish Town Young Men Citizens Association’s computer lab in St. Catherine was upgraded with needed air conditioning units.

The newly built centre of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, was another recipient of the grants. The new centre was outfitted with chairs, tables, office equipment, kitchen appliances, cribs and utensils.

The JN Circle is a network of groups which comprises JN members and customers of the companies in The Jamaica National Group. It was introduced in August 2019 and allows members and customers, who share JN’s values, to take action aimed at improving outcomes for themselves and for all Jamaicans, wherever they reside. There are 16 JN Circle chapters across the country, with two other chapters in Canada and the United Kingdom.

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National Road Safety Council, JN Foundation and FIA Foundation Sign Agreement to Promote Helmet Wearing

Earl Jarrett (left), chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group; Aggie Krasnolucka (centre), programmes director of the FIA Foundation and Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council sign an agreement  to execute a project which will see the establishment of a National Helmet Wearing Coalition, mandated to advocate for increased helmet wearing among riders and pillions, the use of approved helmets, as well as to stimulate the helmet market. Looking on (from left standing) are Kenya-Amber Beek, project coordinator at the JN Foundation; Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation and Omar Wright, lead, Environment and Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation. The signing took place on Thursday, August 10 at the Corporate Office of The Jamaica National Group on Oxford Road in Kingston.

The JN Foundation and the National Road Safety Council, in collaboration with the FIA Foundation, signed an agreement to execute a project which will see the establishment of a National Helmet Wearing Coalition, mandated to advocate for increased helmet wearing among riders and pillions, the use of approved helmets, as well as to stimulate the helmet market.

The agreement for the project was formally signed on Thursday, August 10 by Aggie Krasnolucka, programmes director of the FIA Foundation, who is in the island for the event, Earl Jarrett, chief executive officer and deputy chairman of The Jamaica National Group and Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council.

The three-year agreement, called the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project will be funded by the FIA Foundation to the tune of $750,000 euro, with supplementary funding from JN Group Limited.

In commending the partnership, Dr Jones said that this is a “landmark partnership that is expected to positively influence road safety promotion especially among bikers. And given the huge numbers of bikers dying every year, and suffering severe head injuries because, inter alia, they are not wearing helmets, the proper execution of the project could be a game changer for road safety in Jamaica.”

Earl Jarrett said the partnership with the National Road Safety Council and the FIA Foundation is a timely one and an agreement that is expected to have far reaching impact.

“The Jamaica National Group, through the JN Foundation, is happy to be part of this agreement. We are a staunch advocate of road safety and preserving lives of road users. We believe that this project, when implemented, will reduce road fatalities among motorcyclists,” he said.

Aggie Krasnolucka of the FIA Foundation said she was happy to be part of this partnership and looks forward to meaningful results emerging. 

“FIA Foundation supports the ‘Vision Zero’ approach which seeks to redesign transportation to put people first; to engineer and manage highways, streets and vehicles within a ‘Safe System’ where no death or serious injury is accepted. This agreement today is a testament of our commitment to reduce deaths on our roads globally,” she said.

The first phase of the project will commence with the execution of research to provide a baseline that will inform the work of the project going forward. A comprehensive stakeholder mapping and engagement exercise will be undertaken to examine and understand the current situation relating to helmets and helmet wearing in Jamaica.

This will be followed by the development of an action plan highlighting key milestones and policy objectives that will guide the activities of the National Helmet Wearing Coalition during and beyond the timeframe of the project.

The final phase of the project will see the execution of activities agreed upon by the National Helmet Wearing Coalition, as outlined in the Action Plan. These activities would be informed by phases one and two and implemented through the coalition’s programme of work. As part of the Coalition’s monitoring and evaluation, it may require having working groups and parish committees to drive the execution of activities within the plan.

According to the National Road Safety Council, since 2012, approximately 600 motorcyclists have been killed on Jamaican roads. All were men. Data from the Ministry of Transport and the Jamaica Constabulary Force indicate that these deaths account for approximately 30% of total deaths caused by road crashes in Jamaica over the period, and that over 90% of those who died were not wearing a helmet.

“It is in that context of saving the lives of many young men, thus sparing their families grief and pain, and allowing them to live rich and fruitful lives contributing to national development as outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals into which road safety has been inserted, that the NRSC and JN Foundation in partnership with FIA Foundation believe that this project could be a game changer for Jamaica’s future,” said Dr Jones. 

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AI in Fintech Can Address Financial Inclusion – Claudine Allen

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, says the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Fintech (financial technology) has the potential to promote financial inclusion by opening access to financial services to people who have very little access.

Miss Allen made the assertion while addressing the JN Foundation virtual summer camp recently, which was held under the theme ‘Building Future FinTech Innovators: Skills for Life’.

“Here in Jamaica, while most persons will go into a bank with relative ease, it is not the case for some countries across the world and you would be surprised at how reliant people are on remote banking services,” she said.

“Think about those persons who are at work when banks are typically open. Technology has changed this by making banking services accessible anywhere, and at any time,” she added.

Expanding on the term financial inclusion, she cited the World Bank’s definition as “individuals and businesses having access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs and are delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.”

Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn (centre), lead, Youth and Education Programmes, JN Foundation makes a point to Ann-toniann Johnson (left) and Ashley Fender, participants in the JN Foundation summer camp.

She also noted that, according to the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ), financial inclusion enables the underbanked and the unbanked to better undertake and grow business activities, save safely in the financial sector, manage risks and build financial security.

“It all boils down to helping people to access financing that will ultimately help them live better lives. They can save, invest, borrow, insure and generate wealth for themselves and their families. And, that’s a good thing for them, and for our country,” she pointed out.

This is the second year that the summer camp was being held and is powered by the JN Financial Academy, which was launched in 2022 with the aim to empower JN members to achieve financial freedom by providing information, training, and mentorship, to help them make better financial decisions.

Participants in the JN Foundation summer camp take a group photo.

Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn, Lead, Youth and Education Programmes, JN Foundation noted that, “The key objectives of the summer camp were to introduce high school to the unique skills and attributes needed to succeed in today’s technologically advanced society especially with the changing financial sector and focused on careers and other opportunities in tech. We also sought to empower participants to seek out and build on positive contributions to technology for nation building,”.

The summer camp, which attracted some 300 participants, saw them being introduced to the key features of the new Jamaican dollar notes and the importance of the transition. A tour of the Money Museum at the BOJ was also a key feature for a selection of participants.

Presenters at the camp were Luigi Allen, customer success account manager, Microsoft, USA and former JN Foundation scholar, who spoke on his personal career journey in tech; Diamond King, youth banking officer, Youth Banking Unit, JN Bank, who showcased how the JN Group has been ‘Positioning YOUth for Financial Success’.

Danielle Mullings, software engineer and youth leader discussed how youth can align technology to their own success through strategic planning, volunteering and networking and Garvin Grandison, manager, regulatory reporting, JN Bank, shared an ‘Introduction to Financial Planning’.

Jaymeon Jones, a Web 3 Enthusiast, marketer and chief executive officer of Yaad Labs, spoke on his journey in ‘Tech Entrepreneurship’ which included the financial and mental pros and cons and Garfield Rodriquez, Cyber Security Analyst, JN Group presented on ‘Cyber Security: Staying Safe Online’.

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Social Intervention Programmes for Men Should Be More Targeted

Policymakers and implementers of social intervention programmes targeted at men and boys are being advised to adopt more innovative ways to reach the male population.

The recommendation came from Reverend Jayson Downer, minister, author and radio host, and Dr Steffon Campbell, published author, and lecturer and coordinator of the journalism programme at the Caribbean School of Media and Communication (CARIMAC)—UWI.

They were guests on the JN Circle Live Class discussing the topic, ‘From Boys to Men: A Look at Modern Day Masculinity in Jamaica’. The conversation was moderated by media practitioner and public speaker, Brian Cuff.

Dr Steffon Campbell, published author, and lecturer and coordinator of the journalism programme at the Caribbean School of Media and Communication

“Investing in healthy men contributes to a healthier and safer society. So, it is allowing men to express themselves, as it [healthy expression] has an impact on them and other people in the society,” said Dr Campbell, who pointed out that the current Gender Policy is skewed towards protecting women and girls.

“If we need to make a change in our society, we really need to start understanding men without any preconceived notions. Sometimes we design programmes without even speaking to the men and that is why sometimes they don’t show up because you sit down in a boardroom and say, ‘The men want some mentoring’ and you create a mentorship programme and you target it at inner-city communities, assuming that only inner-city boys and men are responsible for all the problems in the society. But that is stereotypical and does not solve the problem,” he pointed out.

He said research has pointed out that men tend to be more receptive to walk-in counselling sessions and open doors and open space, which he said are more impactful.

Rev Jayson Downer noted that the messenger is key to communicating with men, pointing out that, often, women are used as the messengers.

“The issue of domestic violence [is one such example]. When you have women carrying the message and trying to reach men, it is like shooting yourself in the foot. There are enough men out there who are equipped to have this conversation. Men listen to men because we can identify when we get angry and how to deal with the situation,” he noted.

“I think the government relies too much on regular means of reaching men. To tackle some of these issues and to get the message out, you need to go where men are,” he said.

Rev Downer said men’s initiatives also need funding, including initiatives targeted at perpetrators, who he said should be targeted for reformation and rehabilitation.

Reverend Jayson Downer, minister, author and radio host
Reverend Jayson Downer, minister, author and radio host

“Men’s initiatives need funding. There are a lot of funding out there for women and girls…. a lot, and we support that. But we need funding for men. When all the resources go toward the victims, what will happen to the perpetrator? He will repeat the offence and I’m saying put some funding there [to facilitate reform],” he said.

The JN Circle Thrive Together Life Class was introduced in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic by the JN Foundation to provide an avenue for persons to share their thoughts on a range of issues, including psychological and emotional matters. The sessions have been attracting several hundred participants locally and, in the Diaspora, such as the United States of America, Canada and England.

The JN Circle is a network of JN members and customers of JN member companies, who bond together through community building, advocacy and networking.

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Members of staff of The Jamaica National Group at the beach clean-up at Sirgany Beach in east Kington last year.

Portmore Residents Urged to Tackle Improper Waste Management

Omar Wright, lead, environment, and community development at the JN Foundation, is urging residents of Portmore to join forces to tackle the issue of improper solid waste disposal in the municipality.

“In our pursuit of waste reduction and proper disposal, we hold the key to transforming the environment and uplifting the lives of every resident in Portmore. I firmly believe in the immense power of collective action. When we unite our efforts, we have the capacity to accomplish extraordinary feats,” he said.
Mr Wright made the appeal while addressing the launch of the Portmore, JN Circle chapter, recently. Portmore became the 17th chapter of the JN Circle, a global network of JN members and customers who are empowered by JN to work together to improve their own lives, and the lives of others.
The JN Foundation lead on environment and community emphasized the urgency of addressing improper waste management, highlighting its far-reaching consequences on local environment, economy, and the health and wellbeing of residents, especially those situated near the coast.

Members of staff of The Jamaica National Group at the beach clean-up at Sirgany Beach in east Kington last year.
Members of staff of The Jamaica National Group at the beach clean-up at Sirgany Beach in east Kington last year.

In coastal communities, he emphasized that poor waste management practices can lead to devastating outcomes, including the contamination of pristine beaches and marine ecosystems, the depletion of natural resources, and the degradation of tourism industry that sustains local livelihoods. He underscored the alarming health hazards posed by improper waste management, such as the spread of diseases, the release of harmful toxins into the air and water, and the increased vulnerability of community members to respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses.

“Improper waste disposal and the lack of proper collection and transportation systems are the primary causes of this problem. This leads to the accumulation of waste in public places such as streets and beaches, which can be harmful to the environment, marine life, and human health. The community [Portmore] is in dire need of an effective waste management plan that can mitigate these issues and create a cleaner and healthier environment for all,” he explained.

He informed that the Foundation’s waste management initiative was conceptualised a year ago when The Jamaica National Group considered some environmental challenges it could assist to address.

He assured prospective members that The Jamaica National Group is fully committed to supporting the waste management initiative, if taken on board, and will leverage its resources, relationships, expertise, and guidance to ensure its success.

Troy Bygrave, business relationship and sales manager at JN Bank, welcomed the launch of the JN Circle Portmore chapter.

JN members of staff take a group photo after cleaning up the Sirgany Beach.
JN members of staff take a group photo after cleaning up the Sirgany Beach.

“As Portmore continues to transform and thrive, the need for infrastructural and social support to aid its growth continue to emerge. Therefore, the launch of the JN Circle Portmore chapter is indeed timely, and we believe it will redound to the benefit of Portmore as it will assist with identifying and developing solutions to the municipality’s various challenges, as well as assist to forge the right partnerships for its development,” he said.
Erica Livermore, acting principal of the Sabina Basic School and prospective JN Circle member, said she was happy that JN Circle chapter has been established in Portmore. “It is a good initiative, and I am open to take on the challenge,” she said.
Celia Burnett, member relations supervisor, JN Group, with responsibility for the JN Circle chapters, said there had been numerous requests for a JN Circle chapter to be established in Portmore and that The Jamaica National Group was proud to respond positively to the calls.
She said the JN Circle provides a platform for members to use their voices to create change for themselves and their communities through advocacy, empowerment, and networking. Launched in 2019, the JN Circle has chapters in all parishes and one in the United Kingdom that have been positively impacting the lives of their members.

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Jamaica Combined Cadet Force’s Resource Transformed by JN Group on Labour Day

The Jamaica Combined Cadet Force is now celebrating the transformation of their multipurpose resource centre courtesy of members of staff of The Jamaica National Group who, on Labour Day, painted the building, and planted shade and fruit trees to enhance the facility.

Warrant Officer Dale Maitland of the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force, in expressing his gratitude to the team, said the completion of the facility would not have been possible without the assistance of the JN Foundation, The Jamaica National Group volunteers, and other partners.

“It is a dream and vision that is being completed today. I am so glad that The Jamaica National Group is onboard to fulfil this dream. Thank you to the team and thank you for being here,” he said.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, led 40 enthusiastic volunteers from The Jamaica National Group to undertake this impactful Labour Day project. She described the experience as an awesome exercise for the volunteers and said that The Jamaica National Group was excited to have undertaken the project.

“It was work that was fulfilling and enlightening for us because the role that uniformed groups like the cadets play and can play in Jamaica is very important. It is our hope to support you in the work that you are doing and get more young people involved so that we can have better outcomes generally,” she said.

Omar Wright, lead for Environment and Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation said the project was undertaken because The JN Foundation is centred on enriching lives and building communities and, therefore, the Foundation did not hesitate to get on board to support the uniformed group. He emphasised that youth and education are priority areas for the JN Foundation.

“We thought that we would not only sponsor the initiative, but we would also mobilise our members of staff to come out and engage in a day of service and give back to the community because we believe in empowering our youth,” he added.

Claudine Allen (second left), general manager of the JN Foundation makes a point to Warrant Officer Dale Maitland of the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force following the unveiling of the multipurpose resource centre. Looking on are Omar Wright (left), lead, Environment and Community Development at the JN Foundation and Dawnette Pryce-Thompson, project coordinator, JN Foundation.

For the volunteers who were on hand to assist with the project, it was a fulfilling day of service. Brittany McFarlane, remote customer service representative, at Total Credit Services, a member company of The Jamaica National Group expressed her satisfaction, saying, “It feels good. It is nice to give back to the community specifically the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force, it was a really fulfilling day,”.

Teshena Johnson, customer service representative at JN General Insurance said that it was a productive day for her and that it was good to give back to the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force.

“I felt excited to have been involved in such worthy cause because that will benefit young persons,” she said.

Dwayne Brown, executive, Cyber Security at The Jamaica National Group said he was glad to be among the volunteers to contribute to the project.

“Labour Day is a time for everyone to come together and contribute to projects that will benefit our country. I always look forward to Labour Day, so if I’m not doing something in my community, I always try to reach out and try to do things in other communities because I think giving back is important,” he said.

The newly refurbished resource centre, recently renamed the Lt. Colonel Edgar Williams Fuller Building in an unveiling ceremony in tribute to the Lt Colonel’s dedicated service to the Jamaica Combine Cadet Force, will serve as a space for training of the cadets. It will be equipped with computers and internet to assist the cadets with their educational work. Additionally, the centre will also be used for mentorship training, continuing Lt. Colonel Edgar Williams’s legacy of nurturing young individuals into model citizen with exceptional leadership qualities.

Lt. Colonel Edgar Williams served as Commanding Officer of the Independent Cadet Unit for more than 25 years, devoting his time in the training and development of youngsters to mould them into model citizens who display exemplary leadership qualities.

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Stress Management Important for Children Too says Psychologist

The month of May, although celebrated as Child Month, is also often a stressful time for many children, particularly those who sit exams during this period.

Against that background, it’s perhaps, therefore, apt that May is also observed as Mental Health Awareness Month to bring awareness to various stressors and the need for people to carefully manage life’s challenges- even children.

Jhanille Brooks, licenced associate counselling psychologist, says, given the realities of life, practising mindfulness can help relieve stress and health-related illnesses, especially for students.

“The whole concept of mindfulness speaks fully to being engaged and immersed in a moment and in the presence. Not too much in the past and not so much in the future. It means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment,” explained Brooks.

She gave the advice as a guest on the JN Foundation’s Parent and Child Empowerment Seminar, which was held recently for JN scholars and their parents.

Citing some benefits of the therapy, she said this includes helping one to stay focused. It can also help to improve physical health, to treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. She said mindfulness also helps to treat mental health problems especially those associated with anxiety and depression.

The counselling psychologist said stress can manifest itself in different forms, such as frequent stomach upsets, headaches, muscle tension, trouble sleeping, feeling tired all the time, feeling burnout and being impatient or irritable.

Ms Brooks advised students who attended the session that it is important to develop a self-care plan, which can be useful to address issues of stress before examinations. This plan she said entailed reconnecting with a spiritual source, exercise and doing physical activity, and feeding one’s mind with positivity and humour.

“Unhealthy junk food all the time is not ideal, having a healthy diet is better. Spending quality time alone is also important. The meditation that we spoke about and staying positive and having a sense of humour are also important,” she said.

She informed that there are free apps that can assist with relaxation, such as Headspace, Aura, Breethe and Calm.

“There are many apps out there, so find one that works for you. It is best to have it on your smart phone so when you feel stressed in a moment you can plug in your headphone and listen to the app, which will help to keep you calm,” she said.

The seminar was the first of several sessions being organised by the JN Foundation. Parris Lyew-Ayee, chairman of the JN Foundation, said the sessions are aimed at empowering both parents and scholars.

“This session has been specifically designed so that you can take away educational information, but also so that you can acquire life skills and specific aptitudes, such as developing a financial mind-set, ways to set and achieve your goals, and skills to manage stress,” he said.

The more than 50 students who were in attendance were also exposed to goal setting strategies and techniques and financial literacy with a focus on money management.

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Jamaica National Group Supports National Tree Planting Initiative

In support of the National Tree Planting initiative, The Jamaica National Group has distributed 700 seedlings to its members. The mixture of fruit and ornamental tree seedlings were distributed as part of a pre-Labour Day activity across five of its branches island-wide, recently.

Kimberly Gardner, marketing relations officer of The JN Group Marking Department said the distribution was in support of this year’s national Labour Day theme, ‘Plant a Tree for Life, Promoting Climate Change Mitigation, Food Security and Road Safety’.

“We did a similar initiative last year and this year was a continuation of that promise to support the national thrust to plant three million trees, which is being spearheaded by the Forestry Department,” she explained.

“It also coincides with our own initiative to ensure that the environment is one that is safe and that there is sustainability by ensuring that we plant as many trees as we can,” she said.

Lena Peart (right), business relationship and sales manager, JN Bank Half Way Tree hands out seedlings to members of staff at JN Bank. Looking on is Mark Harvey, acting extension officer at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority.

Mrs Gardner said the initiative forms part of the JN Group’s Environmental Sustainability Programme, which is being done through the JN Foundation. The programme is geared at supporting environmental awareness practices in Jamaica by focusing on key areas, such as deforestation, waste management, water conservation and energy efficiency.

The marketing relations officer disclosed that fruit and ornamental trees were distributed to its members at JN Bank branches in Portmore and Spanish Town in St Catherine; Half Way Tree in St. Andrew; May Pen in Clarendon and the JN General Insurance office on King Street in downtown, Kingston.

Mrs Gardner informed that an agronomist from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) was on site at the Half Way Tree location informing customers about how to care for the plants they were gifted.

“What we have found is that there are numerous tree planting activities each year but not a lot of support in terms of plant care. So, we thought that having an agronomist on site to share information with our customers would be beneficial,” she said.

The agronomist also gave tips on how to create a backyard garden and how to manage the different plants that were distributed.

JN members who received the trees commended the financial institution for executing the initiative. “This initiative undertaken by The Jamaica National Group is good. Everybody should be planting as this is good for the environment,” said Gareth Fairweather, a JN member.

Mrs Gardner said the initiative will be sustained.

“We look forward to executing more initiatives like these as we emphasise the importance of tree planting and supporting a healthy environment,” she stated.

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