“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” – Mahatma Gandhi
A writer once defined culture as the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. This definition simply tells us that without culture we have no essence or identity, we would merely just exist with no manifestation of character or appreciation for country.
Every Jamaican adult can probably say that as a child culture meant everything, even though in their minds it wasn’t culture it was family tradition, the norm or just simply a community thing. Culture over the years has lost its significance in most Jamaican homes and children are more focused on the release of the latest animated series and Xbox games than cultural heritage. Culture has simply become a part of history, instead of everyday life. The passing down of tradition has decreased and our nations children are in need of a cultural renewal.
The Institute of Jamaica has been catering to the development of Jamaican children for generations through the establishment of the Junior Centres which falls under the Programmes Coordination Division. The mandate of the Junior Centre is to provide the facilities for young people to acquire knowledge and develop skills in the various art forms so as to foster their intellectual, aesthetic and cultural growth. The programmes offered by the Junior Centres provide not only cultural awareness but also caters to the holistic development of our nations children. The children are not only exposed to the Visual and Performing Arts, they are also engaged in reading, computer skills, personal development and various programmes that are geared towards teaching them valuable life skills, self awareness and acceptance.
Some of the classes offered by the Centres include; dance, speech and drama, art, music, drumming and papermaking. Classes are not only geared towards teaching a skill but also allowing each individual to understand the cultural significance and stories hidden behind each.
HERITAGE FEST 2017
The Institute of Jamaica hosted its Annual Heritage Fest on Friday, October 27, 2017 and the Junior Centre was ready with a wide array of activities for the children to enjoy. There was a display of the various art works that were hand-made by the children, bounce- a-bout, karaoke, and face painting, to name a few. The sweet aroma of bona fide Jamaican jerk chicken and pork drifted from the jerk centre and lingered in the air, making it hard to resist. Hundreds of students from various schools made the most of what were being offered and cries of disappointment were only heard when the teachers shouted, “time to go!”
The children were given the opportunity to experience culture in a diverse and exciting way, through firsthand experience of the sweet Jamaican luxuries. They went home that day with a greater appreciation for culture and a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly Jamaican. Indeed the day’s activities made way for a cultural revival in the hearts and souls of the children.