Miss Manchester Festival Queen vows to champion special needs | Entertainment

The special needs and disabled communities will be the focus of the newly crowned Miss Manchester Festival Queen Shonnoya Houston during her reign. The 25-year-old special educator shared the details of her community project following her coronation at Belair High School in Mandeville on Sunday.

From the outset, a confident Houston expressed her deep commitment to advocating for persons with disabilities, emphasising her strong desire to empower members of this community to achieve their full potential. Her dedication shone brightly during the question-and-answer segment, where she was asked about her preferred government ministry and priorities. Without hesitation, Houston chose the Ministry of Education, articulating her desire for the establishment of policies that offer crucial training and support for individuals in the special needs and disabled communities, particularly post-secondary education. She said her dream is for the empowerment of the disabled to enable them to achieve their full potential, so that they can make impactful contributions to society.

Speaking in a post-coronation interview, Houston shared the details of her community project aimed at this special-interest group.

“My project, known as The Special Aid Project, focuses on advocacy for inclusion of persons with disabilities. It will be geared towards promoting awareness of persons with disabilities, and raising funds to assist persons with special needs who may be in need. As a special educator I chose this project as I have found that for far too long persons with disabilities have been underserved. These persons have so much to offer, so I am here to honour that potential and offer as much support as I can,” Houston shared.


A favourite with the audience from the start of the show, Houston cemented her victory when she claimed four of the six sectional prizes on offer. She took home the awards for Most Culturally Aware, Most Poised, Most Active in the Community and Best Performance. The remaining two prizes went to Marcé Coleman, Miss EPAMS Jamaica (Most Congenial), and Siphany Walters, Miss Manchester Co-Op Credit Union (Most Popular on Social Media).

At the end of the night Houston’s court was completed by second-place winner Dacia Green, Miss Gateway Pharmacy, and Jadie Lewis, Miss Courier Jamaica, who took the third spot. The other two contestants who made it to the top five were Marcé Coleman and Siphany Walters.

Coleman was also presented with the special Grace Under Pressure award by the organisers. Long-standing volunteer, Karlene Kelly Reid, was recognised with a long service award for 18 years of service to the Festival Queen programme in Manchester.

Since the start of the parish coronations on June 1 this year, the JCDC has crowned seven of the 13 parish festival queens thus far. These coronations are leading up to the Grand National Coronation on August 3. The parishes of Hanover, St Elizabeth, St Thomas, St Ann, Portland, Clarendon, and Manchester have already selected their queen. This weekend’s slate of coronations will unfold in Trelawny, Kingston and St Andrew, and Westmoreland.

Glistening Waters, Falmouth, will be the venue on Saturday, June 22, for the Trelawny Coronation. The show will begin at 8 p.m. Then on Sunday, June 22, Kingston and St Andrew (Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre) and Westmoreland (Sean Lavery Faith Hall, Sav-la-Mar) will crown their queen with the show beginning at 7 p.m.

The theme for this year’s competition is ‘The Jamaican Woman: Creativity beyond Boundaries’.


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