Maypole Plaiting, a game-changer for self-confidence
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Blessed Vaughn has been honoured for her work in mobilising young people through Maypole plaiting
Blessed Vaughn has been honoured for her work in mobilising young people through Maypole plaiting

BLESSED Vaughn is an English Teacher at Ascension Secondary School and is also one of the teachers involved in the traditional maypole dancing exercise, which occurs in May of every year all across the country.

Vaughn hails from the village of Enmore, East Coast Demerara and, during an interview with the Pepperpot Magazine, noted that she began to become involved in the Maypole event from the tender age of four through the inspiration of her grandmother (the late Claire Wilkinson). Wilkinson was a sexton (church custodian charged with keeping the church and parish buildings prepared for meetings) at a local Anglican church on the East Coast.

Vaughn stated that at the age of 16, when she began the Maypole event, she saw it as firstly a form of entertainment and by extension developing young people, thus reducing their involvement in activities that are not beneficial for their moral upbringing, such as crime. As she grew, she began to impart the skill into younger persons around her.

She noted that her Maypole activity caused a tremendous impact on the way of life for the young people, significantly, the reduction of teenage pregnancy among teens in villages across the country.
“It helped to reduce social ills like teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and crime, because everybody was so taken up into the Maypole. Of course, the boys used to come to see the girls and girls used to come to see the boys, but it used to be fun and nobody took anything out of context, so I felt that I was impacting young people’s lives in a positive way and in an interesting way to them,” Vaughn said in an interview.

She noted that through her activities of teaching Maypole plaiting to the youth, she might have made a great impact in the lives of so many young people, adding that young people who would have failed in school particularly in their CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) were taken to be May Queens.

“I would have [sic] helped them financially to further their studies, help them spiritually, socially and psychologically. So, I think that I would have made a great impact, all the young people who know me, even to those who would have [sic] grown and gotten children, their children know me. Some of my Godchildren, most of them are still around and they respect me; they have good jobs and are working to achieve their goals in life. They didn’t go down the wayside. Thus, my impact on them was great,” Vaughn told the Pepperpot Magazine.

Vaughn was careful to mention that Maypole plaiting in the village of Enmore and along the East Coast transformed a lot of the young people’s lives to the extent that some of them have established their own business enterprises due to its impact.

In the future, Vaughn made the call based on her experience, that a lot of young people do not have anyone to look out for them. Therefore, it means that she would be one of those who would look out for those who have no one to look for them.

Vaughn noted that the main issue, particularly among East Coast youths, is low self-esteem. This, she highlighted, gives rise to a number of other social ills.
“Some of them are so talented, but because they aren’t getting the support, they tell themselves that they aren’t worthy enough. They are withdrawn and then these things that would happen to them, so you just see them being pregnant. You know, I question it as to how did this happen and why did it happen, but the heart of the matter is that they are led to being pregnant and doing things that aren’t in keeping with right moral standards,” Vaugh opined.

According to Vaughn, Maypole plaiting should be seen as an activity to boost one’s self-esteem and confidence and not become a money-making affair.
She was eager to talk about the success of maypole plaiting, which impacted the life of one girl who was shy and withdrawn. Eventually, she became a customer service agent as a result of her involvement, which made her more outgoing.

Vaughn is strongly of the view that it works when it comes to transforming the lives of young people, who are grappling and dealing with a lot of complex issues and problems.

Vaughn was recently recognised as one of 25 influential women leaders for her work with youth through maypole plaiting. The honour was bestowed upon her by a dynamic team of female leaders and entrepreneurs in their own right: Michelle A Nicholas of The NICO Consulting, Inc., and Lyndell Danzie-Black of Cerulean Incorporated. The unique award turns the spotlight on women – with 25 awardees being honoured for their passion and commitment to uplifting the business sector, their communities and society.

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