Today we feature the Jenella Edwards and the HEON Project Grenada: a non-profitable, non-political initiative which seeks to empower young people through education and the development of one’s skills and abilities. We speak to Jenella to find out more about the HEON project.
How The HEON Project Came About
The idea of what we now know as the HEON Project was birthed in 2013 when Jenella Edwards represented Grenada at the ‘My World, My SIDS (Small Island Developing States) Youth Consultation on Sustainable Development, held in Jamaica. This was a preparatory meeting to the 2014 Global meeting. Eighteen youth delegates from across the region were charged with the responsibility of identifying five key areas for sustainable development in the region. The areas selected were: Social Protection, Education, Youth Empowerment, Climate Change, and Good Governance.
All delegates made a pledge and promised to pursue follow up work in their respective countries. Edward’s pledge was ‘youth empowerment through education,’ and as such, the Project seeks to fulfill that commitment made. Jenella wanted to do a project which will provide an opportunity for disadvantaged students to attend college or a recognized skill center. Upon her return, she remembers coming up with different names of the project and asking coworkers at the time, whether or not they were suitable until she came up with HEON Project.
The abbreviation HEON represents “Help Educate Our Nation,” and at the time, she knew what she wanted to do but couldn’t do it by herself and didn’t have the resources to pay the tuition for the students. Hence the name HEON, which suggests that all citizens can play a part in affording students of the opportunity to further their education.
Jenella then shared the idea with friends such as Carlene Perryman-Rouse, Ali Downden, Kimberley Calliste, Brent Alexander, Britney Wells, Shamir St. Bernard, Lexsan Adriene, Damian Gunpot, Saron Mark and Kingsley Thomas. They shared similar interests and showed the same passion for providing an opportunity for disadvantaged students because of their personal experiences as well. They met in November 2014 to draft a constitution, and on the 10th January 2015, the project was no longer an idea but a reality.
What is the HEON project about?
The HEON Project Grenada is a non-profitable, non-political initiative which seeks to empower young people through education and the development of one’s skills and abilities. The project is 3 years old and is run by young people for young people.
The HEON team members are from all over the island, and they all bring their wealth of experience and knowledge to the project. Most members know first-hand of the difficulties faced when one is desirous of pursuing further education but at the same time, lack the financial means to do so. The project raises funds through the sale of items including t-shirts, bags and through an annual Charity event.
Additionally, the project has sponsors who annually contribute to the students’ tuition. We have had sponsors from the onset, who came on board like S.A Smart Buy supermarket, Petite Anse Hotel, Mr. Frederick Joseph from Trinidad, the Thomas Family of Hermitage St. Patrick’s and Belmont Estate who sponsor students annually. Other sponsors who came on board are: Mrs. Lexan Fletcher, Mr. George Buddy, Mr. Lloyd Herry, Duty-Free Grenada ltd., Hot Chocolate Boutique, Mr. Leslie Ollivere (Mr. Leslie’s Agency Custom Brokerage), Fernanda Loftus and Island Catering
Interview With Jenella
What were you doing before you started the HEON project?
Before the HEON Project, I started The River Sallee Youth Alliance in 2012, a community-based youth organization, which brought together talented and creative minds in the community of River Sallee, St. Patrick’s to engage in activities geared at community growth and development.
What inspired you to start the HEON project?
I really wanted to do something in that field because of my personal experience when l was desirous of furthering my education at the T.A. Marryshow community college, but I was financially unable to do so. Fortunately, someone in the community saw potential in me and decided to pay for my tuition and more. To this day, I am forever grateful to this individual.
What obstacles did you face in launching the HEON project and how did you overcome them?
In everything we do, we will encounter obstacles. What’s important is how we were able to deal with them. At the time the group was not in a financial position to get off the ground, to get the first set of t-shirts, etc. However, we were able to negotiate with a company to give us the t-shirts on credit and pay after it was sold. We needed other things, but members used their personal finances to get the project off the ground really. This really proved how committed the members are and willing to go the extra mile to give others an opportunity to excel. Fortunately for us, Lucky Productions assisted us with all our video productions and Mr. Andrel Macmillan did our very first logo and other services free of charge.
What is your most significant Success to date?
To date, the project has assisted over 25 students with tuition fees, and we were recognized by two prestigious international bodies in that of the YLAI and the Queens Young Leaders program.
What’s next for the HEON Project?
The project is planning it’s annual charity event, this year it’s a Dinner and Dance carded for the Arena, Plains St. Patricks on the 3rd November. Dinner starts at 6:30 pm and Dance starts at 10 pm. Dinner cost 50.00 single and 90.00 couple. Dance only- 10.00. Tickets can be purchased from any HEON member or by calling 419-9128 or can be purchased at the Arena on the night
We will also be launching our New Logo at the Dinner as well as our mentorship program.