President and founder of the Rio Claro Sporting and Leisure Foundation, Currline Cooper, has been bringing the community of Rio Claro together with various activities for young and old alike.
The most recent being the public walk against violence held on Sunday 25th August which began at the junction of Baptiste Street and ended with an education and awareness programme in the Rio Claro carpark. Members of the public, donned in their purple apparel, eagerly gathered from approximately 7:00 a.m.
Cooper justified that the theme, “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” was self-explanatory and selected due to the recent crimes within the community. The objective was to empower persons to take a stand and promote non-violence. Grandparents, youth and young children marched peacefully through the streets accompanied by the Mayaro Scouts trained by the esteemed, ‘Miss Patsy’. Some onlookers were convinced to join along the way. Cooper alluded, “People, strangers who met for the first time, were unexpectedly willing to carry placards and made it feel family-oriented.”
The assembly at the Rio Claro carpark was addressed by several persons with emphasis on protecting children. Mrs. Kellyann Pascall of the Rio Claro Police Station Council urged persons to speak out when affected by violence and to persuade others in such situations. This was followed by WPC Ms. Maurissa O’Connor attached to the Community Police of the TTPS, explained the procedure for making reports and sought to diminish related fears.
Mr. Winston Gypsy Peters spoke on the issue on violence. He encouraged the parents to teach children to work against crime all the time. Additionally, he reminded the audience that crime does not discriminate against women, men and children but “happens to all people and we must alleviate that.”
He further advised that they try to make amends wherever they may have gone wrong and find the space within their hearts to accommodate more love for each other. He also rendered, “Little Black Boy”, the song that won him the 1997 national calypso monarch title.
Several children who attended the event were presented with ‘back-to-school’ items contributed by a few businesses and persons within the community.
Cooper deemed the event successful but highlighted the limitations of advertising at a cost on the assigned billboard adjacent to the roundabout and being unable to reach those who are not connected by social media. It is her hope that through the numerous events, others in the community will become more active towards similar issues regardless of age or gender.
Cooper is in her early thirties and has great aspirations as a young citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, some of which have been realized through the Rio Claro Sporting and Leisure Foundation. It is a Non-Profit Organization that was incorporated on 27th September, 2017. The organization was born from the anguish of losing a 20-year-old nephew in May 2016, at the hands of a gunman. Cooper turned her emotional and psychological suffering into something both positive and progressive fuelled by her personal drive and perseverance to keep his memory alive.
In May 2017, she managed a small goal knockout football tournament in honour of her nephew because he played and loved football. She thought about forming a football club but soon realized there was a bigger need for youth to be surrounded by persons who believe in them and want to see them succeed.
Cooper elaborated, “In life, we go through a lot of difficult times and it’s not what happens to us, but how we react to what has happened to us, that’s important.”
The main purpose of the organization is to provide an avenue for after school and weekend activities for children and the young at heart to be engaged ‘In Community’ through sporting and leisure-based activities. This can become an effective and long-term deterrent to the crime and criminal activities. It’s an initiative that will be targeting the basis of the (continuing) senseless crime situation in our community and country. Our main aim and motto are, “Saving Our Nation through Sporting and Leisure Activities.”
It was her hope that the awareness and unity brought about by the walk against violence will continue, and people will love and support their neighbors for the good of society and each other.
“The stand we take today will not just be for today but for the future,” Cooper added, “I will just like to remind everyone that ‘Evil triumphs when good men do nothing’.”