Empowering Minds

Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts

The Association of Santa Cruz Community Groups – Graduation Ceremony

“Empowering Minds”

Saturday 5th August


Santa Cruz R.C. School

Feature Address

Presented by:

Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly,

Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Page 2 of 6


Madam Chairperson

Mr. Stephen Williams, Acting Police Commissioner of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service

Mr. Patrick Bertrand, President of the Association of Santa Cruz Community Groups

Other members of the Association

Specially Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Most importantly, Graduates

Good afternoon, Let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on your accomplishment today. You should be very proud of yourselves for accomplishing this goal. Today marks a turning point in your life, a defining stage where you have made that step in pursuit of your own self-development. It is great to know that you all have chosen to empower your minds with learning something new. You have all worked extremely hard to be here! Well done!

Let me also congratulate the Association of Santa Cruz Community Groups for their vision in implementing this pilot project in this community. “Empowering Minds” aims at impacting the lives of all the families of the participants. I believe that you are off to a great start, not only in impacting the various lives of persons in the community but also uplifting your community and injecting positivity in the minds of twenty-six youths ranging in age from 8 to over 20.

I have a passion for working with young persons and at the Ministry we have so many programmes, such as Mentoring with the Masters and Cultural Camps that focus the development of young persons. But we at the Ministry have recognized that we need partners in communities to help us build resilient communities and this graduation today is one such success story.

I believe that once empowered, young persons will have the skills, critical awareness, and opportunities to positively impact not only their own lives and the lives of other individuals but on organizations and communities. Providing the tools for empowerment through these programs can yield effective real world change.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its original dimensions.” What does this really mean? Over the last couple of weeks, you would have been provided with opportunities in photography, airbrushing and culinary arts and as such you are now equipped with new skill sets, tools and knowledge. Today should not merely be about you are collecting a certificate but about plans to take this one step further. You can achieve anything you want to achieve with constant effort, removing those obstacles and reaping those rewards. Seize this opportunity!

But I wish to share a true story about someone we all know off as his face is plastered everywhere.

At age 5 his Father died

At age 16 he quit school

At age 17 he had already lost four jobs

At age 18 he got married

At age 20 his wife left him and took their baby

At age 65 he retired. He felt like a failure and decided to commit suicide. But then he started to think about what he was good at and thought about how good of a cook he was. So he borrowed $87 fried up some chicken using his recipe, went door to door to sell. At age 88 Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Empire was a billionaire. Colonel Sanders faced many obstacles, rejection and disappointment but was determined to succeed and that he has.

My dear graduates, the secret to Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day (Jim Rohn). First, you must Overcome Your Fears and secondly Stay Focused.

By far the biggest obstacle to taking action is your fears. These may be fears that you are aware of, but quite often it is fears that you may not even be consciously aware of. Something is holding you back and until you recognize and deal with that issue you may find yourself stuck. Just decide, commit and remain disciplined NO MATTER WHAT OBSTACLES ARE THROWN YOUR WAY. It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. FEAR has two meaning: FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN or FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE. THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

You must first find a clear focus of what it is you want to accomplish and have a clear vision of where it is you want to be. Focus on your goals, not your fear. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Focus on your character, not your reputation. Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes. Acting consistently and towards the right purpose is important. Work out your vision. Work out your purpose. Be clear on what you want in life. Once you do it becomes easier to say no to distractions and you will then know what knowledge you need to acquire and concentrate on in order to reach your destination.

Remember, a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its original dimensions and as such it is my expectation that having been empowered with this new experience that you will master your destiny and be a pillar of change in your community.

Congratulations once again on your achievement today, good luck and best wishes.

Thank you.