JPS Foundation powers up high school energy club Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

With a view towards empowering the next generation of climate-smart innovators, the JPS Foundation invited more than 150 students and 21 educators from 13 high schools across the island to the launch of its rebranded Power Up Energy Clubs last Tuesday at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters in Mona.

Garnering support from several of the power company’s executive management team, who welcomed the opportunity to interface with the young men and women, the launch proved an insightful window into the dynamic world of energy ideation and expansive employment possibilities. 

“Think of yourselves as persons who will be making groundbreaking transformations. Challenge your intellect and broaden your horizon,” guest speaker Winston Blackwood, who is head of digital transformation and business effectiveness at JPS, urged the students from Fern Court, Calabar, St Catherine, Mushett, Claude McKay, Waterford, Merlene Ottey, Tarrant, York Castle, Jose Marti Technical, Ocho Rios, Holy Childhood, and Albert Town high schools.

“The energy landscape is changing with resource depletion and environmental degradation,” Blackwood appealed to the captive youth audience, encouraging them to utilise their club membership to challenge themselves mentally. “The world needs your audacity, and you are not to just understand the status quo, you are here to disrupt it. Embrace the power of disruptive thinking to develop energy that is renewable and accessible to all.”

Meanwhile, senior lecturer in the Department of Physics at the UWI, Mona, Dr Andre Coy, in his address, heaped praises on the existence of the Energy Club in Jamaica’s secondary institutions.

“I wish I had an energy club that was active like this while I was attending high school,” Coy said. “Energy is not just about science. Whether you are a science enthusiast or not, you can innovate or collaborate.

“The club offers a pathway to critical thinking, so I encourage you to pull the different strands and come together to develop ideas,” he said.

The launch also featured a number of breakout interactive sessions led by consultant psychologist Georgia Crawford, who spoke on the divergent roles of what being a mentor and a mentee entailed; educator and scientist Karla Hylton addressing the topic, ‘Your Role as a Teacher and Mentor’ while business coach and technologist Keith Dixon provided a thorough overview of the extensive content provided by the Power Up Energy Club. 

An enthused head of the JPS Foundation, Sophia Lewis, said the launch surpassed her projections.

“We were, in fact, oversubscribed,” she revealed. “We expected 11 schools but had 13 turning out. There were over 200 participants, and they looked forward to what we had to share. We also had 27 volunteers from JPS who are called Volunteers On Location To Serve (VOLTS), who were eager to support the students and learn about mentorship and how they can help to enhance the lives of the students. It exceeded our expectations in terms of participation, and we accomplished quite a bit.” 

Founded nine years ago, the JPS Foundation Energy Club programme has undergone a rebrand as the Power Up Energy Club. What’s new, according to Lewis, is a detailed curriculum and accompanying selection of workbooks for students.

“Teachers have been presented with guides to follow and we have a club governance structure that is documented. There will also be inter-club debating competitions, and ultimately, we want to do an innovation challenge or a public education challenge so students who are more technically inclined can go the innovation route, or for the more creative types, developing a social media campaign.

“All of this is geared towards the Foundation’s goal of creating a generation of climate change action heroes who are not afraid to innovate and create solutions to the problems of climate change,” Lewis disclosed. 

The JPS Foundation is aiming to add seven affiliates into its fold by the close of the 2024 academic year, to bring the total allotment to 20 energy club chapters.