By Christopher Tobutt
The Young Gentlemen’s Club shows young boys how to be young gentlemen, by showing good manners and being considerate and respectful of others, as they grow in a sense of self-esteem. It was started by founder members Pastor Winslow Johnson and his wife Diana Johnson in September 2020, and has quickly become very successful, with more than half of Cayman’s primary schools already taking part. On Tuesday 6 July, Prospect Primary School Hall was filled with club members from Theoline L. McCoy Prospect, George Town primary, Sir John A. Cumber Primary for their very first End of Year Awards presentations. Present too were dignitaries from the government, including Acting Director of Youth James Myles and Minister of Youth Hon Bernie Bush, who each gave some tips to the younger ones about their own pathways to becoming gentlemen, and why it is so important.
After opening in prayer came a moment Pastor Johnson said he had been looking forward to since the club’s inception: the time when all the young gentlemen would stand to recite the club pledge: “Today I pledge to be the best me I can be, to display honesty in all that I do, to treat others with respect, remembering always that I must respect myself first. I pledge to show manners, that will help me grow, be grateful for life, I will dream for the impossible and reach what I felt was unreachable. With God’s help, I will make it.”
“Wow, what a year we have had,” Pastor Johnson said, after the boys were finished, “Over the last few months, our YGC boys were engaged in a number of enlightening and fun activities. They have learned that it is important to acknowledge a person when they are walking into a room, and they learned how to introduce themselves to a person when they are meeting them for the first time. We also talked about dangerous drugs, keeping safe, and the importance of good hygiene habits. I have seen some of our YGC members begin the transformation into focused, empowered boys who are learning to work together, support each other and be their brother’s keeper. If this is what we can accomplish in the YGC program in 10 months, I am excited about the future. Will you join us?”
There was a ‘show and tell’ where some of the young gentlemen demonstrated the art of introducing yourself properly to a new friend: “My name is Alec, nice to meet you, what is yours?” “My name is Cameron,” “What is your favorite colour?...”
Next, there was a Best Necktie Competition with boys representing each of the schools coming up onstage. They took their time tying it, but that is OK because it’s quite difficult and its best to get it just right. Some of them were helped by Hon. Bernie Bush, who later admitted that he hadn’t got around to tying a necktie until quite a bit later in life. Addressing the young gentlemen he said, “Everything in your pledge says it. It’s a gentlemen’s club, and when you leave here, open doors for the ladies, and pull out chairs for the ladies. When they call you a ‘gentleman,’ it’s an awesome thing, it’s a nice thing. …please remember what you have been taught. Do not be afraid to ask for guidance.”
Acting Director of Youth, Mr. James Myles also had some words of advice: “23 years ago I took a pledge as part of the National Youth Task Force, and that ignited my passion to do more and to become more,” he said.