Ato Boldon chats with some St Augustine Senior Comprehensive Secondary students after a motivational lecture on Monday. Photo: Noel Saldenha
By Joanne Briggs
Ato Boldons challenge was never the inability to speak. But when he spoke in front of a hall filled with St Augustine Senior Comprehensive Secondary students on Monday, he came face to face with tough questions.
You all are asking some real controversial questions, he joked.
Nevertheless, Boldon welcomed them, intrigued by their concerns about their country, and responded to the challenges with his own introspection on how to deal with crucial issues.
How to deal with drugs in school? asked a student.
Boldon said that despite drug awareness programmes that existed, it was not going to solve the problem.
Some people have to go that route and learn the hard way, he said.
As long as I am in control, everything is good.
As for me, the minute you start to go down that road of the drugs you dont have control anymore.
However, if a person opts to lead that life, more room and oxygen for us, Boldon said.
What can be done to battle the level of crime?
Everybody have to be real nosy, he said.
Its a question of accountability and responsibility of the people and not the officials that govern the country, Boldon said.
Like if I come home and I have a brand new pair of sneakers and my mother knows she didnt buy it for me, he said.
So, how I get that pair of sneakers?
I see children come home with all sorts of thingsmaterial and otherwiseand they (parents) dont know.
If you lived on a street where there was a family with five or six children, you knew what was going on with them, but now, everybody close their door and not studying outside.
The young people dont want to take responsibility, the parents dont want to take responsibility.
The Government is the net, but the net is so big...so, at some point it is up to you all.
Boldon said he would like young people to get more proactive about society.
Doing nothing can be extremely dangerous, he added.
Negativity has to be dealt with a tough skin, the Commonwealth record holder said.
You have to harden yourself. Be strong-willed. At no point is everything going to be 100 per cent supportive.
There are going to be twists and turns. Just accept that it is going to come. You are going to do everything in your power to see your plan all the way through.
When another student asked what role traditional morals and values played in society, Boldon lamented it was getting to a point where such lines were close to extinct.
The line between those in authority and someone who is under authority went from blurred to non-existent, he said.
Its cooler and hip to be impolite.
Boldon urged the students to make it a priority to retrace those lines.
He said he believed that there was a need for corporal punishment in schools.
For certain very serious offences, Boldon said.
As for spiritual and moral values, Boldon emphasised the need for young people to create a spiritual centre.
Everybody needs to have one, he said.
His advice to the young men in the audience, as requested by a female student was, Nobody is telling you not to have confidence or a sense of self, but dont be such a man that you have your ego or pride as a chip on your shoulder...you could end up dead.