Twelve young people, part of the Proud of Them program, where presented with their awards during a wonderful banquet at the George Town Yacht Club. Proud of them is a twice yearly awards which recognizes the achievements of young people in the Cayman Islands. All the young people between the ages of 10 and 25 have attained significant achievement in the fields of academics, sports, culture, business or community service. It is an initiative led by the National Youth Commission and the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, and is driven by the community through a public nomination process. To date 120 youth have been recognized through 10 rounds of nominations, which began in 2013. MC for the evening was Mr. Joel Francis, Chairperson of the Proud of them Committee.
Each of the awardees received a certificate, a financial award, and will have their photos photograph will be featured for six months on billboards across the Cayman Islands. The awardees belonging to the five categories were as follows: Career, Diego Smith; Academics, Dominic Owens, Jade Barnard, Nathan McCoy, Allison Flores-Hernandez, Shannon Williams, Isabella Hall; Business, Julisa Dilbert; Community Service, Greyshell Bent, Tarec Francis; and Sports, Jillian Crooks and Jorel Bellafonte.
One of the Community Service awardees, eighteen-year old Greyshell Bent, had worked hard for four years in John Gray High School’s Key Club, a service club for young people. “I was first told about the Key Club by my Social Studies teacher, Ms. Eldemire,” Ms Bent said. “I Started as Chairperson, and then went on to become Secretary and then President.” Eventually, Ms Bent excelled in her work, and took a lead role in all five of Cayman’s Key Clubs, and helping to organize important community events such as providing dinners for the elderly, or helping the Kiwanis with their yearly Santas Landing event for children.
Julisa Dilbert, 23, was recipient of the Proud of them Business Award, after starting a successful pet-care business, Happy Paws Cayman, at the age of just 19. The business now employs nine people, and provides a comprehensive pet care service on all three islands. “I always encourage our employees to love and care for the clients pets as if they were their own,” Ms Dilbert said.
Before each of the awards were presented by Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Minister for Education, one of the very first recipients of the program, Chekiya Tatum, gave some remarks. Having gained the award for Academics back in 2013, Ms. Tatum spoke about her subsequent journey: “I recently went through a very low point in my life, where I wasted too much time comparing myself to others and feeling good enough. As Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ None of us travel through life in the same way, I mean, imagine how it would be if we were all good at the same thing. We each have our own uniqueness. Don’t compare yourself to others. I can assure you that once you accept your purpose, and walk in it, that’s where your joy will be.”