The Youth Ambassadors Programme for mental health - a branch of the Alex Panton Foundation - hosted their third annual induction event on Saturday 13 November, with the goal of training and inspiring young teens to become advocates for mental health issues in the Cayman Islands.
Due to the spread of Covid-19, the Youth Ambassador leaders, Jhadari Lumley and Caitlin Roney, decided to host the event virtually via Zoom. Former Miss World Cayman, a long-standing partner of the Alex Panton Foundation and advocate for mental health, was this year’s keynote speaker. She stressed the responsibility that comes with such an induction:
“Earning the title Youth Ambassador for mental health is a great privilege and one you should be immensely proud of,” she confirmed.
Joining her, clinician, Dr Erica Lam and founder of the Alex Panton Foundation, Jane Panton, also gave encouraging words to the future youth ambassadors as they received direct training on the science of the brain, maintaining healthy relationships, mental health policy and inclusion.
By the end of the event, 45 teens, ranging in age from 14 to 19 completed the training. To date, the Alex Panton Foundation has supported more than 105 youth ambassadors for mental health. Considering our world’s current crises including the global pandemic, climate change, and income disparity just to name a few, empowering students with the skills to strengthen their mental health was key to creating a better future for us all, they said.
Youth Ambassador leader, Jhadari Lumley was thrilled to see so many engaged students and said this was their biggest induction yet.
Among the new inductees was Isabella Do Vale, who said:
“The Youth Ambassadors for Mental Health are one of the warmest and welcoming groups I've been a part of. Every member is so kind and welcoming. I'm very excited to be a part of this team as we help other students in our community.”
Inductee, Janani Kumar appreciated that the programme helped to destigmatise talking about mental health, which helped to find ways to support people on their journey towards a happier life.
Monina Thompson, who was inducted last at last year’s event, was excited to share the Youth Ambassador’s next project and campaign with the inductees.
“This year we are fortunate to partner with UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) on our project proposal ‘Inclusion for All’,” Monina stated. “We identified a key demographic in Cayman, persons with disabilities that are often underserved. We wanted to target three main areas for support: Cayman’s social, educational and business sectors. Our aim is to challenge and guide these sectors to be more inclusive. It has been an amazing experience working with representatives from around the world, as we come together to create change in our own communities. The Youth Ambassadors for mental health are really excited to see our plans grow into fruition.”
With many future projects to come, the Youth Ambassador leaders continue to express gratitude for the support of the Alex Panton Foundation and for Conyers for sponsoring the programme.