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Restoring HOPE in the Lives of Jamaican Youth

By: Jason Whyte, B.I.R.D. Apparel, CEO and CO-founder

“Jamaican high school students are stressed, suicidal, bullied, and lonely; their parents, for the most part, have no clue.” These were concluding points of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) survey conducted among Jamaican students in grades 7 to 12 between April and June 2010. The survey reveals that 1 out of 5 of these students has considered attempting suicide in the 12 months leading up to the survey, 22 per cent of the 1,623 teens in the sample group had tried to kill themselves more than once in the 12 months prior to the survey, and 50% of the students said they had been in physical altercations over the past year. Having been born in Jamaica this disturbs me.

What ishappening to young people in Jamaica?

One month before the survey results came out, I was in Jamaica and had the privilege of speaking with a group of 37 student leaders at Holland High, a local high school. I started the presentation with a key question, “Where do you see Jamaica 5 years from now?”

The students shared comments like, “I see Jamaica going down a slippery slope, Jamaica will be in economic depression, Jamaica will be in a deep black hole, Jamaica will be plagued with crime and violence,” and there was one student who said, “Jamaica can change for the better, but it has to start with the young people.”

B.I.R.D. Apparel playing a part

In these students responses lies the answer; “young people in Jamaica need HOPE.” This is the belief that motivated Kevan McDaniel and me to create B.I.R.D Apparel a clothing line providing alternate fashion for the violent symbols and negative slogans; and are a vehicle that promotes HOPE in the lives of our youth. How do we do this?

1. We seek inspiration from the scripture to create our designs. B.I.R.D. Apparel designs are motivated from scripture, with themes of love, peace, power and HOPE.

2. B.I.R.D. Apparel donates 10% of all our sales to youth development. Last summer the funds from our sales were used to purchase school uniforms for 100 at risk youth in Jamaica. These are boys ages 14 – 17 who come from disadvantaged homes and challenging circumstances, and do not have the means to afford school uniforms. We contributed these uniforms to equip the students with the tools they need to further their education and to give them a sense of hope. It also shows that despite their current circumstance, there are people who care.

3. Along with the contribution of the uniforms, we desire to share a message of HOPE. To motivate and encourage young people to believe that greater things are ahead. The first week of October 2011, I visited two High Schools and a Juvenile facility in Jamaica, in an effort to share our acronym for HOPE, “H-Having, O-Overcome, P-Positive and E-Expectation. Having Overcome, we have Positive Expectation.” Through this business we have been encouraging young people to recognize that they have the ability to overcome challenges and motivating them to believe that greater things are ahead if they live by faith.

Visiting with these students made it clear to me that the vision that God laid on my heart is greater than I’ve ever imagined. This is not business as usual, it is a calling to transform the lives of our youth, “WeAr Di Change! God inspired me with a message of HOPE to deposit in the hearts of our youth. Young people in Jamaica and many other places in this world need to hear this message.

How can you help?

This goal cannot be achieved by our sole efforts. We would like to invite you to partner with us to help in the journey to restore HOPE in the lives of our youth. To support us, IT’S easy:

I – Intercede: pray that the Lord would show us favor as we seek to walk in purpose

T – Tell: share about our work and like us on

S – Support: you can support us directly at by making a purchase

By: Jason Whyte, B.I.R.D. Apparel, CEO and CO-founder

If you have any questions regarding our company, clothing, and/or our work contact us at

B.I.R.D. Apparel Clothing

Restoring HOPE in the Lives of Jamaican Youth

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