The event was held at Fuse restaurant in Toronto to a packed house of family, friends and well wishers. Here's a look at what the winners walked away with:
Grades 6-8 Category
1st Prize - IPAD Mini & $250 Gift Card + Essay published in Local Newspaper
2nd Prize - Android Tablet & $50 Gift Card
3rd Prize - JN Prize Pack & $100 Gift Card
4th Prize - JN Prize Pack
Grades 9-12 Category
1st Prize - Laptop & $1000 + Essay published in Local Newspaper
2nd Prize - IPad Mini & 200 Gift Card
3rd Prize - JN Prize Pack & $100 Gift Card
4th Prize - JN Prize Pack
ByBlacks.com has been a proud sponsor of this event for the last two years, and we are happy to share the 1st place winners' essays with you. If you ever thought our future as a community was bleak, think again.
“Strength, Confidence, Courage”: My Inspiration
The Gabby Douglas Essay
By Alicia Benta
Crawford Adventist Academy, Grade 6
Winner: Grade 6 - 8 Category
Describe a person of color who has impacted your life and inspired you to be a better person.
When I heard about this amazing competition I immediately thought about writing the essay on Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks. Then I said, “No, they have inspired a nation, but I need to do this on someone that truly inspires me”. So, I made the obvious choice for me …Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas (Gabby Douglas). You know, give the girl some credit…she’s African American, strong, confident, and courageous. Inspiring? She has definitely inspired me.
How did it all start? One morning I turned on the television and got really excited when I saw a tiny black gymnast step onto the floor. I have always been interested in gymnastics but in all the time I had watched gymnastics I had never seen a black gymnast. They kept calling her the underdog but all I saw was a strong, confident, and courageous black girl tumbling her way to the top. I didn’t know it yet, but outside of my family and God, Gabby was going to make the biggest impact on my life ever!
After Gabby won the Olympics I was so excited by her that my father bought me “The Gabby Douglas Movie” and her autobiography, “Grace, Gold, and Glory”. I soon learned she wasn’t just a great gymnast, but she was inspiring. Her story taught me that even when the achievement looks easy it doesn’t come easy.
Gabby was born in Virginia on December 31st, 1995. She was born a fighter. She was born with a rare blood disease called Branched Chain Ketoaciduria, which she overcame in 6 months, by God’s grace. At the young age of three she had the confidence to begin teaching herself gymnastics from watching her sister. At the age of six she was enrolled in formal gymnastics training. At the age of eight she became a gymnastics state champion. At the age of 14 she had the courage to leave home to be trained by her dream coach. At the age of 16 she won the 2012 Olympic Games – in the gymnastics segment. Gabby Douglas became the first African American to win both the individual all-around and gymnastics team gold.
How has Gabby Douglas inspired me? Gabby inspires me to be strong, courageous, and confident because when I am on the soccer field and I don’t think I can run any faster or play for a minute longer, I think of the strength Gabby showed by getting back on the beam after she fell, and I push to do my best. Gabby also inspires me to have confidence. For instance, last year I won the Science Fair overall competition at my school. At my school the judges interview the finalists. I was nervous, but when I thought of Gabby I remembered her confidence and I answered the questions with confidence and won! Gabby inspires me to be courageous. She gives me the courage to “dream big”. Big dreams like becoming a doctor one day. If that’s not inspiring, I honestly don’t know what is?
Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks inspired a nation of children including Gabby Douglas. Now, she inspires other children especially black girls like me. I know Gabby is strong, confident and courageous and most of all I know that the many, many experiences in her life that she pushed through inspire me to be strong, confident, and courageous. In short, she inspires me to do my best!
School name: Crawford Adventist Academy, Grade 11
Winner: Grade 9-12 Category
Describe how corporations in Canada should interact with the Afro-Caribbean community. How do you think Jamaica National could have an even greater impact on shaping the Black community?
The Collins English Dictionary refers to Afro-Caribbean as being people from the Caribbean whose ancestors come from Africa. “Across the country and throughout time, Blacks have played pivotal roles in the unfolding of Canadian history. Woven into the fabric of the country itself, they have made serious contributions to this great nation” (Fil Fraser, How the Blacks Created Canada).
“Canadians of Caribbean origin make up one of the largest non-European ethnic-origin groupings in Canada” (Statistics Canada).
With Afro-Caribbean people contributing to the Canadian society in a marked way, I think corporations should give these communities more recognition. Doing good is like an investment because good will come back to you.
Corporations should start interacting and making an impact beginning with the youth in making them assets, not liabilities. They should take steps to make a measurable difference through investments that will drive revenues back into the hands of local Afro-Caribbean business owners. Those who have come out of these communities and were fortunate to have established themselves among the business hierarchy should give back to their communities. They should be compelled to change history, inspired and moved to be the difference while making a difference in their local communities.
Interaction can take place through town hall meetings where issues can be aired and meaningful solutions are looked at that will make these communities prosperous and its members independent. I think this would aid in boosting the morale of the people and aid in catapulting them towards wanting to make their communities a place to live, work and raise their families. Actions speak louder than words. Empty promises cannot build or sustain a community or a country on a whole. The philosophy these corporations espouse, should be lived by giving back through real genuine actions and commitment.
I will haste to say that there are corporations that are and have been interacting with the Afro- Caribbean communities. One such is the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS). From as early as 1864, the concept of the Building Society was introduced to Jamaica to assist working class and middle class people to realize their dream to own their own homes. In the ensuing years, a number of Building Societies sprung to life and in the year 1865, an Act for the regulation and Encouragement of Benefit Building Societies was passed. Today, Jamaica National is ranked among Jamaica’s largest financial institutions offering a blend of financial services to Jamaica and four other countries including Canada.
“The JNBS Canada Representative Office was opened in 1991 in Toronto, following overwhelming requests from the Jamaican Diaspora living in Canada, for the establishment of a centre to facilitate a banking relationship with a Jamaican financial institution. For Jamaicans living in Canada, JNBS represented a “little piece of Jamaica” outside of the island” (Jamaica National Building Society, Canada).
This is all good and well, but I think JNBS can go way beyond just facilitating a centre for banking relationships. I think they could work with other key organizations in Black communities in encouraging commitment to educational achievement, social awareness in community development, present opportunities for young people to learn about their heritage, thus instilling pride, self-worth and a commitment to excellence. Create opportunities for youth and adults to learn a skill that will make them independent. Also, they could provide meeting places for adults and youth for camaraderie and fun.
Corporations that encourages community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors and see benefits, including loyal customers and happier employees. “Supporting an initiative that is bigger than one’s self, will bring satisfaction."