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Photo: Adrian Walker Acting Senior Director for the Bureau of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Sharon Coburn Robinson, addresses a ‘More Than an Athlete: Not Just a Player’ symposium, held on Thursday, April 12, at Jamaica College in Kingston. The symposium sought to equip male high-school athletes with the knowledge and life skills to make healthy choices as they transition from school into professional careers.

More than 100 male student athletes from several high schools across the island attended the inaugural ‘More Than an Athlete: Not Just a Player’ symposium held today (April 12) at Jamaica College in Kingston.

The forum sought to equip the student athletes with the knowledge and life skills to make healthy choices as they make the transition from school into professional careers.

Features at the symposium included an empowerment session with testimonies from former athletes who have successfully transitioned from school athletics to being successful in various professions; a dialogue on sports and education; and sessions on the business of sports, gender-based violence, balancing education with sports, and healthy versus toxic masculinities.

There were presentations from the Bureau of Gender Affairs and the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission; a motivational session; and an interactive panel discussion with several former athletes, such as Sports Analyst and Commentator, Owen Hill; and Football Coach, Sport and Media Personality, Neville Bell.

Acting Senior Director for the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Sharon Coburn Robinson, said the symposium is part of the Bureau’s thrust to highlight and facilitate a discussion about the challenges and concerns of men and boys in the Jamaican society.

“This is in keeping with our Special Service Desk for men. That is a space in the Bureau to integrate the concerns of boys and men into the development discussion. We now have a more definitive focus to integrate men and boys, so that the programmes that we have do not only target women and girls,” she explained.

“We think it is important to have a symposium to bring the boys in and talk to them about what they are experiencing as young student athletes, so that when they get to the point of transitioning to the work world and the professional space, they are equipped with knowledge from persons who have been there and can share strategies they can use to move forward,” she added.

Participating schools were Charlie Smith High, Calabar High, Hydel Group of Schools, Jamaica College, Kingston College, Meadowbrook High, Tivoli Gardens High and Wolmer’s Boys’.

The symposium was hosted by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, in partnership with the Ministry of National Security and the faith-based organisation, Men of God Against Violence and Abuse (MoGAVA).

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