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Kickin it with Kyra

Meet Kyra James, a dynamic young Virgin Islander who is on a mission to revolutionize the way young people embrace their culture and heritage in the Virgin Islands, and even inspire a shift in the

Meet Kyra James, a dynamic young Virgin Islander who is on a mission to revolutionize the way young people embrace their culture and heritage in the Virgin Islands, and even inspire a shift in the mindset of the older generation. In this captivating article, we delve into Kyra’s remarkable journey and her groundbreaking initiative, Kickinit VI.

Discover how Kyra’s passion for her roots is reshaping the cultural landscape and inspiring a new wave of appreciation for Virgin Islands’ traditions. I hope you are as inspired as I am by how Kyra’s vision is bridging the generation gap and fostering a renewed sense of pride in our rich heritage…

 

CP: Who is Kyra James? Talk to me about how you would define who you are as young woman, a Virgin Islander, and a Creative

Kyra James is a young woman who found her voice through her creative talents and enjoys using them to express herself and contribute to her community.

 

CP: Why Kickin It Virgin Islands?

Kickin It started as a personal vlog called “Kickin It with Kyra” in 2016. Over the years, it has evolved into something much bigger than me. People enjoyed seeing content about where they were from, especially back then when Virgin Islands centered accounts weren’t as prevalent as it is today, and I enjoyed curating a platform that made them feel seen.

Recently, I realized that I could use this community I’ve built through content and take it to another level. What if I could encourage them to act? Now, Kickin It is a non-profit spearheading modern and sustainable ways to preserve and celebrate what makes the Virgin Islands special. Kyra is no longer in the name, but I’m still here, leading a growing team of 20 young people on a mission to revolutionize this space.

CP: How long has Kickin It been around, and what milestones have you achieved during this time?

This year marks 8 years of Kickin It, but we became an NPO this year. I just completed our community impact report for 2023-2024 so thankfully some of this information is at the top of my head! It’s always great to look back and see some of the milestones you may have forgotten about.

In the last year alone, Kickin It has launched key programs and initiatives like “The Capsule Project” – a digital archival project that encourages our community to digitize important photos and documents to prevent permanent loss of Virgin Islands stories, “Kickin It Collective” – a community membership that hosts opportunities for Virgin Islanders across the diaspora to come together physically and virtually to connect and collaborate, and we recently launched “Kickin It University” – an educational program designed to equip Virgin Islanders to be guardians of the culture through classes, workshops and hands-on experiences.

 

CP: Why do you feel the work of Kickin It is important for the Virgin Islands community?

There are often lots of conversations around culture preservation and all the ways we could be doing a better job of addressing it. I myself have posted a few very long Facebook posts about the things I’d like to see happen. Discourse is important, and community members should continue to voice their concerns and share ideas, but eventually I grew weary of asking questions that were never met with answers and volunteering myself for opportunities that never came.

I believe the answers we’re looking for are in the doing. This saying may be cliche but we really do have to be the change we want to see. Now, I execute through Kickin It, and invite the community to get involved.

Our ideas will never be “complete” or “perfect” and we may not immediately have everything we need to make them a huge success, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

CP: What inspired you to start this venture and dedicate your efforts to preserving culture through creativity and community?

Creatives have always been the focus for Kickin It, perhaps because I am a creative myself, but mostly because I noticed they were always overlooked when it came to opportunities for development and even simply being “newsworthy.”

I believe creatives are an essential part to cultural vitality. The songs we sing, dances that accompany them, artwork we put around the city and in our homes, outfits we wear with pride, and the stories we long to see on screen are all powered by creatives.

It is clear to us at Kickin It, that cultural education and creative development, hand in hand, is the magic ingredient to our preservation strategy. Our efforts nurture both, while building community in the process.

 

CP: What defines Virgin Islands Culture?

Virgin Islands Culture is a living breathing thing that we experience everyday. By definition, it includes things like shared beliefs and values, social practices and customs, the way we speak and how we express ourselves creatively. Once we’re alive, culture will continue to live, but it can become faded or weak if some traditionally aspects are lost. Many of us know of these things by hearing about it or watching other people doing it around us. They are practices that happen outside of ourselves that we interact with during designated times of the year, but they should be things more of us know how to do ourselves.

 

CP: Can you tell us more about the Kickin It University program and how it aims to support the development of VI creatives and ultimately VI culture?

Kickin It University’s aim is to create learning environments for those same traditional Virgin Islands skills like making Johnny cake, basketweaving, and quadrille alongside creative development courses and opportunities.

If creatives are provided with the tools needed to sharpen their skills and learn key elements of their culture, they can continue to infuse it in their work on high levels.

 

Kickin It University opens in September 2024

 

CP: There was a crowdfunding set up in support of this program. How has that been going?

 

It is going well! We’re currently at 60% and look forward to meeting our goal by June 8th, God’s willing. Interested donors or sponsors can learn more about the program at kickinituniversity.com.

 

CP: How can more people get involved?

Community members can donate their time and expertise by volunteering to lead a class, they can also contribute resources like venue space and materials/supplies.

CP: Speaking about getting involved, you also have another special project called The Capsule Project. Can you talk to me about this project and how people can get involved?

 

Yes! The Capsule Project is so special. We’ve already received lots of great photos from families, institutions, and fellow organizations. We will be launching a series of virtual and in-person exhibitions soon. (Exclusive! Haha) Persons can get involved by contributing their personal archives at kickinitvi.com/capsule.

 

CP: I love this quote that you use, The work we do at Kickin It is a love letter to our younger selves.Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

All of our team members are connected to the Virgin Islands in some way and recognize that spending our childhoods in this beautiful place played a huge role in who we are today. The work we do at Kickin It, gives back to this place, like a love letter saying thank you for everything it did for us.

 

CP: Looking ahead to 2025, what can the Virgin Islands community expect from Kickin It in terms of new projects or initiatives?

They can expect to see our pre-existing projects like “The Capsule Project” and “Kickin It University” still going and thriving. I think sometimes our community is cautious about supporting or becoming excited about initiatives when they often are short-lived. As a young people ran organization, it is important to me to show current and future stakeholders that we do have stamina and aim for longevity.

CP: As a young creative yourself, what advice would you give to aspiring young creatives in the Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean who are looking to make a positive impact through their work?

I would say to start where you are. Sometimes the fear of us not having it all together can stop us from executing. If I’ve learned anything on this journey, it’s that the learning is in the doing. Do it now. Do it scared.

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jbrin@caribbeanposh.com

Caribbean POSH is a platform dedicated to celebrating and empowering Caribbean women. Our mission is to highlight the achievements, talents, and resilience of Caribbean women, while providing a supportive community that encourages personal growth and success. Join us in creating a brighter future for all.

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