Sept. 1, 2007 — The red carpet was rolled out for 10 young people at Island Center for the Performing Arts Friday evening for the premiere of the video, "Better Choices for a Better Future."
Attending the premiere were more than 100 local residents. Also in attendance was Dick Gregory, humanitarian, activist, health advocate and comedian. Gregory, long a major voice in the civil rights movement, is also a board member of ARCH Institute, sponsor of the video.
ARCH, or Access to Racial and Cultural Health, aims to increase access to health care that is mindful of racial and cultural differences by both traditional and nontraditional methods.
The ARCH Institute curriculum includes the Coalition of Adolescents and Young Adults (CAYA) Media Project, the source of "Better Choices for a Better Future"
The mission of the CAYA Media Project is to build a drug-free, healthy, and safe community by integrating prevention into traditional Crucian cultural arts, games and storytelling.
Delegate Donna Christensen gave the opening remarks. She said, "In 2003, when we began the first ARCH Institute meeting, we had no idea where it would take us, but we had hope. We have partnered with business, government and churches to support our youth in a holistic way. This is the perfect way to link our community with others for our optimal health."
Gregory told the audience what they had done here could be welcomed around the world, and that the whole world needs what the youth are doing here.
Gregory said, "These children have no hidden agendas. They have shown goodness, kindness, love and honesty. Dishonesty, corruption and violence are what the older generation has left them."
The video was taped in nine episodes following a weekly curriculum taught by the ARCH Institute. It was finished in one week with filming done on St. Croix beaches and in the home of Gustav James and Janis Valmond.
The video portrayed young people facing everyday situations and challenges concerning sex and drug use. Actors in the video were Dennis Lynch, Kendall Grant, Jerrell Watts, Laquida Iles, Chivonne Soto, Sheneal Patrick, Annisha Scott, Denise Lewis, Duane Howell and Maren Roebuck. The actors and actresses are a cross-section of young people from the University of the Virgin Islands and public, private and parochial schools.
Dr. Averette Parker, president and CEO of ARCH Institute, said in her closing remarks, "I am happy all of the youths involved in the ARCH Institute have made a commitment to maintain healthy lifestyles.
"Each parent needs to connect with other parents to get their children involved."
Jaslene Williams, vice president of Caribbean /International Affairs for ARCH, said, "The children put a lot of hard work and time into the project, without pay. They did a wonderful job and are truly remarkable."
The Ebenezer Methodist Youth Steel Orchestra provided music during the evening. The local office of ARCH is located at 102 Estate Richmond.
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