My name is Kerry-Ann Ellington-Robinson.
When I think about "Rise" I cannot help smiling.
It was the summer of 1997 I was about to graduate from Holy Trinity High school. I wondered where life would take me now, and what was in store for me. I was so proud of all the achievements that I had made and to graduate with the highest honor a girl could ask for "head girl" I was turning 18 in three months, and I could not be more excited to be a grown up and actually have a job.
I was even more excited when my guidance counsellor told me about a pilot programme that was recruiting 2 graduates from inner city high schools. She asked me if I would be interested and to top that off, my best friend was one of the two. She even announced that we would be getting paid as well as math, English, and computer class! Wow! This news could not get any better. It did get better. We will be going to a training camp. Free housing! Free food, free creative art training from various local celebrities. Hallelujah!!!!!!! God answers prayers.
The adventure begins. They had a few people came in at this new program and yes you guessed it. I was one of them. There was at least 25 of us maybe. I don't remember at this point, but the summer was over and worked began. This group was nothing but positive vibe it was like a new family. Of course along the way a few people left and new ones came aboard.
Life had become more interesting and I was learning a lot of things that I was not aware of. Even my religious belief was challenged.
We had met so many people, local musicians, Miss Jamaica, performers from Ashe and more celebrities. With our training we were able to give back to our inner city schools. We were teaching young people to empower themselves and make positive choices.
We were known as the "AFOs" Adolescent Facilitating Offiicers. We were proud and wore our newly found title well. Our motto was "Guidance motivation and confidence are the keys to our success!" With a very unique hand symbol.
We started making tv appearances, news paper appearances and even being interviewed by the news paper. We did a lot of researches on different topics such as crime and violence, incest, drug abuse,lots of heavy topics. This was truly needed in the community. With each topic we had to become whatever it is that we spoke. I remember one of my role was God Marijuana. I became Marijuana that was interviewed on a talk show with my favorite daughter "THC" the addictive substance found in that drug. We spoke about how we destroyed a couple's life and what the solution was.
I left Rise Life to build a new life in America. I don't think there is one of us that left that place and did not shed a tear.
After moving to America I found a job as a residential counsellor working with young adults with traumatic brain injury. I was able to help them express themselves through the art that I learned at Rise Life. Creative arts. I also work at my church as a youth leader, and a youth Sunday school teacher. We sometimes express ourselves through skits and public speaking.
I am grateful for the experience that I am able to pass on to our youth and for all the techniques that I learned at Rise.