UWI ACE (Arts, Culture and Entertainment Engagement) is a programme that was started in the academic year of 2011-2012 under the Leadership and Student Engagement (LSE) Unit on the UWI Mona campus. UWI ACE used arts and culture as a medium for developing individuals’ physical and mental skill-sets and social abilities. I approached Contra Mestre Simpson (Dennis) toward forming a capoeira group on campus. This group only started in the second semester but rapidly grew in numbers and its members enthusiasm with some students saying they came to look forward to Capoeira class as “a bright spot” in the long weeks as individuals.
Simpson (Dennis) shares his knowledge freely in a manner that makes it resonate with individuals and inspires others to see real time practical applications all around them. The intersectional nature of his involvement, especially in an environment that at times can sterilise learning, saw persons experience growth and extend the range of their personal pursuits in areas such as personal nutrition, permaculture, learning another language (namely Portuguese) all of which Simpson was able to guide with examples, cited publications and encouragement.
Being a part of this group provided a gateway for Jamaicans and regional students to positively interact with some aspects of Jamaica not accessible via the confines of the campus. I left Jamaica in 2012 but was pleased to see Capoeira offered in Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as a streamlined course. I returned to Jamaica in 2015 and was grateful to see some individuals who had started in 2012 as part of the parent group outside of campus in leadership roles.
Simpson (Dennis) brings passion, tenacity and empathy to any project he is a part of. His energy is infectious and leaves you firmly believing that you can make a difference in your and other’s circumstances with the strength of your hands, love of your heart and creativity of your mind. You will not regret it!