Jamaican News

First Blind Contestant Vies for Miss Kingston and St. Andrew Crown

Twenty-five-year-old Samoya Jordon will create history when she takes to the stage at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on May 13 to compete for the Miss Kingston and St. Andrew Festival Queen title.

She will be the first blind contestant to vie for the crown since the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC)-organised competition began 54 years ago.

Miss Jordon, who will be wearing the sash ‘Miss St. William Grant Park’, tells JIS News that entering the contest is the fulfilment of a long-held dream. She says she has always wanted to enter the festival competition.

“When I was in primary school, we would hear about the singing, the dancing, the choirs… . I have always kept track and it’s always been on my mind that I need to enter and try to win,” she says.

Seven other contestants will compete for the highly coveted Kingston and St Andrew Festival Queen crown at the Coronation Show scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m.

It is one of 13 parish competitions for young women aged 10 to 25, held under the theme ‘Jamaican Women… Shaping Our Culture and Our Nation’.

The parish queens will go on to compete for the national crown on August 1. Miss Jordon and the other contestants have been meeting with JCDC parish officers and trainers to prepare for the contest.

Classes are held daily and are focused on cultural affairs, social grace and etiquette, dance, speech, walk and poise. The contestants are also exposed to training in personal development and the performing arts.

Miss Jordon tells JIS News that she has been learning a great deal, and she is excited about Saturday’s contest.

“I feel happy. Even if I don’t win, I have still learnt quite a lot, whether from the etiquette classes, the talent classes, the culture, the questions and answers,” she says.

She notes that, initially, she had to have some assistance during the walk and poise training in order to ensure that she did not veer off the stage as she could not walk in a straight line. She says the tips have also helped her in her daily life.

“As far back as I can remember… I could never walk in a straight line unless I had something guiding me, so I’ve learnt the tips to walk straight,” she says with a smile.

Miss Jordan says she has been keeping up with current affairs in preparation for the question-and-answer segment, while the etiquette classes have taught her the proper way to use a knife and fork.

“We all think we know, but there is a lot more to it, like how and when to use the different forks, the different spoons and where they are placed on the table; different things like that,” she explains.

Miss Jordon had high praise for the other contestants, noting that they have been very supportive and willing to assist her in whatever way they can.

“They are friendly, they will help me, whether it has to do with walking or going home… . We are more like a family, so it doesn’t feel as if we are competing against each other,” she says.

Miss Jordon lost her sight at age eight, following several surgeries to remove a brain tumor. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, she focused on developing her talents, such as singing, drawing, and writing poems and short stories.

A graduate of Meadowbrook High School and Quality Academics, Miss Jordon is at the advanced level of a Spanish course at the Venezuelan Institute for Culture and Cooperation in Kingston.

“I love Spanish. I love learning different languages,” she tells JIS News, noting that she is interested in writing poems and short stories in Spanish.

Miss Jordon describes herself as a self-motivated person, who has not allowed disappointments and challenges to dampen her dreams.

She is advising young women not to give up and not to be afraid of trying new things.

“If you are afraid to try, then you will never succeed. Don’t be afraid of failing, because if you are afraid to fail, then you will never try and you will never succeed,” she contends.

Parish Manager for the JCDC Kingston and St Andrew Parish Office, Paulette Sutherland, tells JIS News that visually impaired persons have been participating in the Festival of the Arts programmes over the years, but this is the first time that someone has entered the Festival Queen competition.

She says the JCDC is excited to have Miss Jordon in the competition, noting that “despite her disability, she does not allow it to stop her from going after her goals”.

“She is showing other persons who might feel that they cannot manage or might be going through a difficult situation that you can rise above your challenges,” she points out.

Miss Sutherland says the JCDC has a group of dedicated trainers, who have been doing an excellent job in preparing the young women for the competition.

The Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition is one of JCDC’s signature events. It is the premier forum for intelligent, culturally aware and poised young ladies who are seeking a platform to make their contributions to nation building and to be selected as cultural ambassadors for Jamaica.

Article by: E Hartman Reckord
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm

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