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Teen activist Jeromy Rodriguez plans anti-bullying tv show

BY COREY CONNELLY Sunday, August 17 2014

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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration Jacinta Bailey-Sobers presents outstanding young cricketer Kirstan Ka...
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration Jacinta Bailey-Sobers presents outstanding young cricketer Kirstan Ka...

Anti-bullying activist Jeromy Rodriguez may soon add another title to his already impressive list of accolades – that of television presenter.

Plans are stream for Rodriguez, 12, to host a three-minute fitness segment for young people on television some time in September in an attempt to reduce bullying in the nation’s schools.

Rodriguez said the programme will mostly target overweight teens, whom he believes are more susceptible to bullying in the school system.

“A lot of the children that get bullied are obese children so I will be sending a message to them about how to take care of themselves by getting rid of fast foods,” he told Sunday Newsday during an interview on Wednesday.

Titled Three Minutes To Get Fit, Rodriguez said the programme, which is expected to run for 13 episodes around 5 pm on weekdays, will encourage youngsters to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

Rodriguez says he is excited about the project and hopes that it will help to minimise the incidents of bullying in the country.

The reigning Junior National Soca Monarch, Rodriguez was bestowed with the prestigious Minister’s Award during the 14th instalment of the National Youth Awards function at the Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s, on Tuesday night.

The soon-to-be Form Two Cowen Hamilton Secondary School student was among 40 young people honoured by the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development for excellence in their respective fields.

They were among close to 150 youths who were nominated for outstanding work in their communities.

Rodriguez, who was honoured specifically for his anti-bullying campaigns and community work, also received a cheque for $3,000, a portrait and certificate in recognition of his contribution. Of the award, the effervescent youngster said, “I feel excited and glad that I won the minister’s award. I work very hard and it really paid off. It is a big honour that shows that the minister respects me and I respect him.” Although he is no stranger to large crowds and awards, Rodriguez said he was still overwhelmed by the gesture.

“I had butterflies in my belly,” the Moruga native says of his feelings after the announcement that he won the Minister’s Award. “I am accustomed to the stage but it was still surprising.”

Rodriguez, who has struck a workable balance between his activism, schoolwork and singing career, was also the lone nominee for Volunteerism in the Community (12-17 category) during the awards ceremony. Rodriguez shot to the national spotlight last year when he won the National Junior Soca Monarch title and later established the Anti-Bullying Association of Trinidad and Tobago – the first of its kind in the Caribbean – to address what at that time had become a worrying trend in the country.

He had taken note of the devastating effects of bullying on the lives of young children after his own sister, Vicky, was confronted with it at the Moruga Secondary School.

This led him to write the song Hear My Cry, which was quickly followed up by three more anti-bullying offerings, Mr Bully, No Bad Boy Thing For Me and Unheard Cries.

Rodriguez also has claimed the International Junior Soca Caribbean Champion award and was crowned the young soca artiste of the year during the International Soca Awards 2013.

Rodriguez’ activism, engaging personality and positive outlook has allowed him to forge alliances with the Police Service, non-governmental organisations, religious groups and other civic bodies bent on eradicating the scourge of bullying.

He also has the support of several prominent personalities including soca star Machel Montano, with whom he joined forces earlier this year to distribute 100 personalised pillows, bearing the logo of his anti-bullying campaign. Always seeking opportunities to spread his message, Rodriguez has a very demanding schedule. Last year, he begun visiting sports camps throughout the country and is sought after by many local government councillors to perform at engagements in their respective electoral districts.

Rodriguez also performs at the Aqua Fun Park, which is currently being held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.

On August 27, the young artiste will leave local shores for seven days to perform at Labour Day celebrations in New York, United States. There, he is expected to perform at four major events. Although the Carnival season is months away, the defending Junior National Soca Monarch says he has already penned his selection for the competition.

“I will mash them up,” he joked.

Speaking to Sunday Newsday, Rodriguez’ mother, Yvonne, said her son was very deserving of the Minister’s Award at the National Youth Awards.

“Jeromy works hard and he deserves it,” she said.

Yvonne said her son has also been able to juggle effectively his school work with other activities.

“He has learnt to manage that stability from very early and is very responsible. I hope he continues on that path,” she said.

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