Ato Boldon and Michael Phillips sign autographs for students during yesterdays second leg of the Guardian in Education Making a Difference schools tour at Princes Town Senior Comprehensive.
Phillips takes full command of the stage during his contribution.
Boldon stoops to make a point during his contribution.
Photos: TONY HOWELL
By Lisa Allen-Agostini
Southern students got a treat yesterday, when sports celebrities Ato Boldon and Michael Phillips went to Princes Town Senior Comprehensive, as part of the Guardian in Education Making a Difference schools tour.
The tour will take the sprinter and cyclist-cum-artist, along with 1998 Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam, WI cricket captain Brian Lara and Olympic swimming champ George Bovell III, to schools all over the country.
As motivational speakers, the national icons will share their experiences and what has made them who they are.
The series is a partnership between the celebrities, the Trinidad Publishing Co, the Ministry of Education, and sponsors National Gas Co, RBTT Bank, Guardian Holdings, BG T&T and Yara Trinidad Ltd.
Boldon, who holds four Olympic medals and the Commonwealth Games 100 metres record, retired from the athletic limelight last year.
He is now working on a career in broadcasting.
In his remarks, he emphasised the value of a good reputation.
Boldon said in light of doping scandals plaguing many of the athletes of his generation, he had avoided taking drugs because of the damage it would have done to his reputation.
I would not have wanted people thinking T&T is a place where people like to cut corners, he said to his young fans.
They cheered his declaration, later on, that he was glad he had decided to run for this country and not the US.
He urged the students of the host school, and visiting students from St Stephens College, to dream and work towards their dreams.
The most important thing you have going is your drive and your confidence, Boldon said.
Phillips, who rode for T&T numerous times at the World Championships and CAC Games, said building his character, as if it were a brand, was one of the secrets of his success.
He told the students a good name was among their most important assets.
Using bottled water as an illustration, he likened appearance to packaging, action to marketing and character to content.
I had to work on me the person and what I was going to be as the product, he said.
The pair went into the rows of seated students during question time and were mobbed after the presentation.
Boldon noted with appreciation that students took notes during each speech.
The Making a Difference tour is part of the 2005 Guardian in Education programme.
The four-year-old programme is an essay-writing competition with valuable cash and other prizes on offer to participants and their schools.
This year, students are asked to write on the speeches of the celebrities, focusing especially on how those speeches have inspired them to change their value systems.