The St. Cecilia Urban Renewal Liveable Neighbourhood Band was re-launched in the presence of proud parents, the community and government officials at a ceremony last week.
The Programme’s Centre Manager Robertha Rolle Walker restarted the band in February with 17 children attending the first practice. That number has now grown to 40 members.
Coordinator for the Programme in New Providence Ella Lewis said the Urban Renewal Liveable Neighbourhood Programme takes very seriously its responsibility to the people of St. Cecilia and to persons living in all of the urban areas.
“We plan to work with you and we will try as best as we can to save our children,” Mrs. Lewis said, “Our children are all we have and if we lose them, we lose everything.”
Mrs. Lewis explained that if the Urban Renewal Programme can help save the children who are band members, then it is working towards saving the country.
She added, “We want more and more of the children to come and be a part of the band, be a part of learning, be a part of growing and developing, because when we are too old to continue the work, they will take our places and they will do the work we started.”
She said the Programme and the community will have failed if the youth continue to die due to violence, drugs and the other ills in society.
Mrs. Lewis told the band members that they are not only learning how to play an instrument.
“You are learning how to discipline yourself. You are learning how to be a team and teamwork is important. On every job you go on you need to know how to work as a team, because if you work as a team the work is easier to do.”
Mrs. Walker said she believes that band members “will not go out there and do foolishness”. She encouraged parents in the community who do not have their children in the band to get them to join because it brings order.
Mrs. Walker explained that the members received their instruments from the government, and that the t-shirts they wear are donated by community residents Peter Kemp and Michael McKenzie.
The band instructors Melvin Colebrooke, Normon Solomon and Stephan Barr are volunteers.
“When I started to restart the band,” Mrs. Walker said, “I asked a gentleman to help out and he assured me that he would, but the day for the first practice he did not show up.
“So I restarted the band on my own. After three weeks of working alone, these persons came and told me that they would like to help me with the band.
“They were faithful and they come out to practice. You do not have to call them, she said, “I give God thanks, because very seldom you find young men who devote their lives to helping like that.”
While both Mrs. Walker and the community are proud and support the band, they also want the children to do well academically.
She encouraged the children to achieve at least a 2.0 or higher GPA. Mrs. Walker has already seen a positive outcome as band members rush to the centre to get help with their homework before band practice on Mondays and Tuesdays.
During the ceremony the band played several selections for the proud members of their community. Father Rodney Burrows of Christ the King Anglican Church prayed for the instruments.