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Archival photograph of Mr Bodden

Published 2nd October 2015, 3:13pm

This year’s theme is “Refocus, Reinvest, Reinforce. Youth Integration for a Stronger and Sustainable Caribbean”. It calls for all involved in the development of our youth to pause, take stock of the present situation and decide as an island community how best to progress sustainably towards our goal.

That goal, by the way, is to, “Empower young people to play an active role in creating the kind of society envisioned in the Cayman Islands Constitution (2009)” (The National Youth Policy, (2011).         

Our community is constantly refocusing, and reinvesting to include our young people and to give them opportunities to be productive citizens in our community.

Looking at the newspapers each summer, we see an increase in the number of young people who are given opportunities to utilize their athletic skills to represent their country, and to observe and interact with people around the world.

We see private sector companies and government agencies offering young people opportunities to work and explore possible career choices.

We see young people earning scholarship opportunities to advance their education and to pursue the career of their dreams.

We also see nonprofit organizations offering young people structured opportunities to make meaningful contributions to many causes in our communities.

Indeed many of our young people are focused, engaged in our communities and making meaningful contributions. This was demonstrated by the response from the community for the last round of nominations for the Proud Of Them Youth Recognition Initiative.

There were over 140 nominations representing some 109 distinguished young people, whom the community thought should be recognised for significant achievements in various fields of endeavor.

Of course, as in any society, we are always looking for ways to engage those young people on the periphery - those whose interests lie beyond what is presently offered. We need to reinforce our efforts to assist these youth whose potential is underutilized.

Many of these young people are talented with their hands, or enjoy creating music and art. It might also be fair to assume that they have a fair amount of pessimism when considering their future, for opportunities to make a living solely from those talents can be uncertain if not paired with other skills. 

Every young person wants to be a successful adult. Each desires to make a good transition into adulthood. Each anticipates being independent. Each looks forward to obtaining items that are markers of a successful adult life – a family, a home, a car, a business.

We have to be deliberate and innovative in how we provide opportunities for all of our young people. We also need to be open-minded to the possibilities presented by technology. 

An app writer was not a career until a few short years ago. Whoever thought that one could make a living from maintaining a website? When was the last time you saw anyone carrying around a printed JC Penney catalog? People now make a living creating and maintaining on-line catalogues. The Cayman Islands now has a Film-makers Association and just this year a movie premiered here.

We also have great climate all year. With vision and fair regulations, making movies, or parts of them, in the Cayman Islands is very possible. A robust film industry would provide a varied and progressive future for those young people in the periphery and those in the mainstream – think intellectual property rights.

In the meantime let us as a community increase our efforts to promote, provide access, support, finance and celebrate the less mainstream programmes that provide opportunities for all of our young people.

Happy Caribbean Youth Day to all.