Newsday columnist among national awardees

Dr Radica Mahase -
Dr Radica Mahase -

LECTURER, historian and social activist Dr Radica Mahase says while TT has made some strides in advancing the cause of special needs individuals, there is still significant work to be done in the area of policy formulation and implementation.

Mahase, a Newsday columnist, is one of eight people being awarded the Chaconia Medal, Silver, at Sunday’s national awards ceremony at President’s House, St Ann’s. She is being recognised in the spheres of education, volunteerism and advocacy.

Eight years ago, Mahase founded the Rahul Clubhouse, an autism centre at Gopaul Lands, Marabella, to draw greater awareness to plight of those with the condition. To date, she has trained an estimated 350 youth volunteers between the age of ten and 30 to work with autistic children and adults.

Mahase said she is happy to receive a national award.

“I am very happy that the work we are doing is being acknowledged because we have come a long way with volunteerism and advocacy in TT. I started this journey with my nephew but there is so much still to be done. We still have a long way to go.”

Saying her work with autism was very valuable, Mahase is hoping the award will bring even more awareness to the struggle of parents and caregivers “because we have so much more that we need to do before we achieve inclusion in this country.

“So being awarded for the work is one thing but actually seeing the change in society is a whole different thing and that is what we need.”

Late calypsonian Francine Edwards (Singing Francine) is also being awarded the Chaconia Medal, Silver, for her work in culture and the arts.

Francine Edwards (Singing Francine) in a file photo taken in 2020. - Mark Lyndersay

Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) president Ainsley King said the award is long overdue.

“The award is well-deserved. It has been a very long time. She has given long service to calypso before she passed away,” he told Sunday Newsday.

Singing Francine, who died on December 16, 2022, used the artform to highlight social issues affecting women. During her 50-year career, she was calypso queen in 1973, 1981 and 1983.

King said he was sorry Singing Francine was not alive to receive her award.

“But at the same time, I will say that it is never too late. At least the legacy she left is still given honour and her family will be able to carry that pride within their hearts because they are here to witness it. Although I believe she should have gotten it when she was here, her family members will be able to celebrate this honour.

King recalled in the early years of artform, Singing Francine and Calypso Rose (McCartha Lewis) had blazed a trail for women in calypso.

“At that time it wasn’t really easy for women to really navigate themselves within calypso and win that respect as the men would have had done. But Francine and Rose made it easier for women today.”

Also being awarded the Chaconia Medal, Silver, is Tobago radio station owner/manager George Leacock. He is being recognised for his work in sport and media.

A cultural advocate and avid masman, Leacock was responsible for establishing the first division of sport in Tobago. He accomplished this with minimal resources, establishing elite programmes, which led to the success of athletes in national and international competitions.

George Leacock -

Combining his experiences as a player, coach and administrator, Leacock was tasked with executing several major sporting events on the island, including the Fifa U-17 World Cup and the Carifta Games. He also recently served as the chairman of a task force to deliver the Tobago leg of the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Contacted about his award, Leacock said, “It is good feeling and check point for all the things I have been involved in – sport, culture, media. I see it as an opportunity to inspire others.”


"Newsday columnist among national awardees"

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