Olympian, MP, PM Embarrass Scouts
Tuesday 14th August 2012
Please allow me the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Keshorn Walcott on his gold medal achievement at the javelin event of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and to welcome him home. This is an achievement on many levels for Mr. Walcott and, by extension, Trinidad and Tobago. The 19 year old Olympian left his home in the small village of Toco an average citizen, and returned as the world’s youngest javelin gold Olympian, the second non European Olympic gold champion in the javelin event, the author of new records for North, Central American and Caribbean Junior Games, the second Olympic gold medalist for Trinidad and Tobago since Mr. Hasely Crawford in 1976, and the elaborate welcome-home gifts has made him a multi-millionaire. I concur that he is truly an inspiration to our young men and women that hard work does pay off, and I share the caution of Sports Minister Roberts that since his life is changed forever, he would need guidance in managing his new found fame.
In the excitement of hosting Monday’s reception party for the Olympian and pass student, Mrs. Davis-Modeste, principal of the Toco Secondary School persuaded the Sangre Grande/Toco Scout campers to defer returning home, and the Protocol Officer and Coordinator instructed the scouts to ceremonially raise the National Flag and form a Guard of Honor to welcome the delegates. They were also to make a special presentation to the Olympian. Therefore, these 7-13 years old boys and girls practiced all day and waited all night for Mr. Walcott’s arrival, enduring a series of false alarms. However, it was after 12am Tuesday, when the motorcade finally arrived the nightmare began. Poor coordination between the organizers and the police resulted in a frenzied mob preventing the convoy from reaching the Guard of Honor. The police seemed almost powerless against the mob as both parties almost trampled the scouts.
The Guard of Honor was completely ignored by both Mr. Walcott and the delegates – Councilor Rondon, MP Dr. Griffith, Prime Minister Mrs. Persad-Bissessar, and Cabinet Ministers. The scouts reported that they were hit in the head by news cameras, and that Mr. Walcott dismissed a scout saying “but scouts don’t ever get tired! They can wait.” Whether his arrogantly dismissive and injurious comment was deliberate or the inadvertent result of tiredness is to be determined, either way, it will continue to haunt the scouts. To add insult to injury, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar was heard by other scouts saying “look we have boy scouts” while failing to recognize the Guard of Honor and its purpose, or to seize the opportunity to endorse a group that her People’s Partnership government has been touting as a means of snatching the nation’s youths from the clutches of criminal lifestyles. It was worse yet as the scouts waited even longer to find that after the welcome-home ceremony ended with a fireworks display some 45 minutes after Mr. Walcott’s arrival, their special presentation to him was not even included into the program.
As it has been said “Children learn what they live” and we ask, is this the kind of disrespectful attitude and behavior from influential people that we want our youngsters to emulate? Are children’s efforts meaningless? Had the Guard of Honor been formed by adults in the armed forces would they have been trampled and pushed aside too? In the minds of these young boys and girls, Mr. Walcott’s “beacon of light” role model image, is severely compromised, as is their adoration for Mrs. Persad-Bissessar, Mr. Warner and Mr. Gopeesingh (Ministers who openly voiced support for scouts), as this embarrassment reduced them to tears.
How much does the People’s Partnership government really care for the scouts? Obviously some effort is now required of them for the restoration of faith and the correction of these contradictions. What are they going to do to erase this real embarrassing nightmare from the minds of the scouts of the Sangre Grande/Toco District?
On a brighter side, however, the scouts would like to extend thanks to the PNM’s Mrs. Joan Yulle Williams who happily obliged to comfort these youngsters by posing for a photo with a couple of the scouts.
Mrs. Sharon King (Group Scout Leader, Sangre Grande/Toco Scout District)