The rural community of Ewarton in St Catherine was well represented on Saturday evening when 48 young people were awarded at Emancipation Park for their stellar contributions to national development.
Jhannel Tomlinson, who hails from Benette Shop in the Mount Rosser area of Ewarton, received the 2019 Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Environmental Protection.
She told The Beacon that the award is partly dedicated to young people from rural communities, which she said will be affected significantly by climate change.
“To be honest, this award is not just for me, but for the young people I advocate for and speak on behalf of – particularly those in rural Jamaica who are most at risk,” she added.
Climate change, a big global concern, is essentially the difference over time in weather patterns – such as average temperatures. It is partly caused by human activities.
Tomlinson, a PhD candidate at the University of the West Indies, is researching the capacity of community-based organizations to effectively support climate change adaptation initiatives.
The preliminary findings of her work already have been published.
Tomlinson is also a youth climate activist, who represents the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, as well as Youth Climate Change Activists. She is co-founder of Young People for Action on Climate Change.
Through academia and activism, Tomlinson has been taking her message across Jamaica as part of school tours, workshops, projects, and panel discussions on youth and climate change.
She also represented Jamaica in Paris, Poland, and twice at the United Nations.
Tomlinson said she will soon travel to Madrid in Spain to be inducted as the first Caribbean adviser to a prestigious global youth climate board. That post will enable her to, among other things, assist in the distribution of funding to grassroots organizations across the Caribbean.
Tomlinson, who has been immersed in climate advocacy since 2013, has no plan to change course now.
She said: “Climate change is something that we need to prioritize – especially the engagement of youth in the conversations… I will hopefully be working in the field soon to ensure concrete actions are taken.”
Tomlinson’s family, in the meantime, harbours great expectations.
“I was always ‘the likkle bright girl’ in the family; so there have always been high expectations,” she told The Beacon.
Tomlinson, who had an ‘exciting experience’ growing up with four brothers and her parents – Sandra and Percival Tomlinson, is a past student of Mount Rosser Primary and Charlemont High School.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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