PROChangersja creating awareness through ‘edutainment’

What social issue do you care about? Wouldn’t it be great if you could help raise awareness of that issue while donating to a worthy cause?

Well for the past six years, the Philanthropic Revolutionary Optimistic Changers of Jamaica, (PROChangersja) has been helping advocates to do just that with their CARE campaign.

It’s a two-part campaign that begins on social media and culminates with a show at the Phillip Sherlock Centre at the UWI, Mona.

Mikiela Gonzales speaking at the 11th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris about the CARE campaign.

Founder of PROChangersja, Mikiela Gonzales told BUZZ that the social media aspect of the campaign is to help give a bigger platform to other advocates. “I usually ask people every year to share what they care about, and I realized that it has actually changed. When we just started, mental health wasn’t a big thing, domestic violence human trafficking were because I believe around that time, there was a lot of news about human trafficking. But now, one of the biggest issues is mental health,” she said.

All proceeds from the show are donated to the Hope Project, a tutoring programme initiated by the UWI Guild of students.

In fact, Gonzales started the CARE campaign while she was the Deputy External Affairs Chairperson on the Guild, and saw a need to do more. “I was speaking with some of the students and I was asking them what they plan to do after CXC because at that time the programme was only for CXC,” she said.

“I encouraged them to do sixth form. But then I believe you can’t just be telling people to do better, but should also be a part of the process to help them do better,” she added.

She said she saw the opportunity to help less privileged students to do better, while at the same time raising awareness about various issues. “A lot of times we have breast cancer awareness month, or you may have mental health day and all of these, but then it’s almost as if after that month or day, if it’s not somebody who is affected by the issue, they tend to not care anymore,” he said. “And I don’t think that they are insensitive or anything like that, it’s just unless you’re actually in the position, or it’s somebody close to you, it’s simply hard to care,” she said.

A lover of the performing arts, Gonzales decided to use it to spread awareness. “Even though you may never have been affected by any of these issues, seeing somebody go through it on the stage, they’re able to put the audience in an emphatic environment,” she said.

Performances from last year’s show.

This year’s show will be held on January 22, at 6pm. (Entrance fee is $1000). Patrons will be treated to performances from the University Dance Society, Campion College Dance Society, PAH Deaf Dance Company, among others.

Last year’s audiences were treated to emotive performances.

There will also be short info sessions from various non-governments organisations. “What we decided to do in the second year was to actually invite organisations. So if you have an issue with mental health, I’d invite an organisation that deals with mental health and at the show they’d get some time to talk to the audience,” she said.

‘I believe you can’t just be telling people to do better, but should also be a part of the process to help them do better’.

— Gonzales

Although she’s very happy with the impact the show has had over the years, her goal is for it to get bigger and better. “My vision is for more people to get involved, for more people to talk about issues, and for the show to eventually move to The Little Theatre,” she said.