Extraordinary Young Caymanians Featured on ‘Proud of Them’ Billboards

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The following is a press release from the Ministry of Education:

Cayman Islands, 15 January 2021. Fourteen young Caymanians have been officially named the “2021 Proud of Them Honorees” for their extraordinary achievements in the areas of culture, academics, sports, business, and community service.

To celebrate their accomplishments, the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports Agriculture and Lands (MEYSAL) in partnership with Youth Services Unit has erected fourteen billboards across Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, featuring the likeness of the honorees.

Youth Minister, the Honourable Julianna O’Connor-Connolly congratulated the honorees for this extraordinary achievement. “I extend well-deserved congratulations to each of our Proud of Them honorees. Your extraordinary accomplishments have afforded you all the privilege of being celebrated by your countrymen by way of a billboard. I implore you all to continue reaching higher and making the people of the Cayman Islands proud!”

Minister O’Connor-Connolly also thanked those who had nominated the honorees and urged others to follow suit. “I am thankful for the continued support of members of our communities who take the time to celebrate the efforts of our youth including academic achievers, brilliant young entrepreneurs, talented young sportsmen and sportswomen and those youth making a difference in their communities. I want to appeal to others that recognising and supporting our youth is a critical step towards youth empowerment.

The list of honorees includes talented dancer and Dream Chasers assistant dance instructor Cassiedy Davis Quintero, John Gray High School’s student of the year, Chadene Brooks, and the youngest qualified cricket umpire and football referee Christon Ferguson. They are joined by John Gray High School’s Head Boy and energetic community volunteer Jelani Hanson, dedicated community volunteer Jaryed Myles and Joshua O’Garro, who holds the distinction of being the first Caymanian to reach a Division 1 NCAA Basketball team. Rounding out the list are young Moriah Praise Padua, who has been instrumental in raising funds for several local charities. Budding young entrepreneur Kianda Parchmont, Academic and cybersecurity and management information systems expert Kristina Powell, Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association assistant student representative Joelyn Scott, Lieutenant Governor of the Cayman Islands Key Clubs Leah Robinson and passionate environmental volunteer Danielle Seales.

The group of young leaders ranging from ages twelve to twenty-four were recognised and celebrated during a gala held at the Ritz Carlton last Thursday (7 January) attended by high-ranking government officials, family and friends of the honorees.

Now in its twelfth round, Acting Head of Youth Services Unit, James Myles outlined some of the many positive changes to Proud of Them youth initiative. “Thanks to the efforts of Minister Juliana O’Connor Connolly and her team at the Ministry, this round has fourteen honorees instead of our usual dozen. The Proud of Them Awards Campaign is now bigger than it has ever been, with a new website www.youthservices.ky for online nominations and information, along with newly erected billboards in Cayman Brac.”

During the gala, each honoree received a monetary grant of one-thousand dollars and previewed the roadside billboards that have been produced in their honour.

Mr. Dwight O’Garro, collected the award on behalf of his son Joshua, a sports honoree, who is away at school.

Guest Speaker and former honoree Bradley McLaughlin, urged honorees to follow their passion. He also encouraged them to have a purpose and work hard to realise their dreams despite all odds. “To work towards your dreams, you must have a purpose and a willingness to overcome all obstacles, no matter how big or small. Always tell yourself I can do it, no matter what it takes, I will make it,” said Mr. McLaughlin.

The honorees were nominated by members of the wider public and selected out of sixty-seven nominees. For more information on the Proud of Them initiative, including details about the next nomination period, visit www.youthservices.ky.

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