Teacher awarded 2009 YCLA

A humble school teacher who challenged audience members to find a place for God in their hearts walked away with the Young Caymanian Leadership Awards trophy Saturday night.

Emcee Bobby Brown kept the audience hanging until the last possible moment. But it was soon announced that Elroy Bryan, a senior teacher and teacher of Physical Education at the Lighthouse School, was this year’s recipient.

‘Tonight I am honoured and humbled by this experience, and I think it sends a message to all young people that truly we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us,’ said Mr. Bryan in his acceptance speech. He thanked his grandparents and parents for their inspiration and hard work and had a message for the youth and adults of Cayman.

‘I would encourage all young people to find a place for God in your hearts and in your lives.

‘I think the YCLA wants us to remember the bigger picture tonight and that is there are a lot of people in these Islands that need help, especially our young people.’

Mr. Bryan did not neglect to honour his fellow finalists and at many points in his speech he alluded to how grateful he was to have been involved in projects with them over the past months, providing them with strength in numbers.

‘All of the finalists are winners and we have now been given the responsibility to help others to realise their potential as they can also strive to overcome whatever challenges they may face,’ he said.

Closing with a poignant question, Mr. Bryan left the audience members with food for thought.

‘The YCLA has asked the finalists: where do we see the Cayman Islands in 20 years? Tonight I ask you the same thing.’

Stephen Ryan, the recipient for 2008, was fortunate for his experiences as he passed over the title to Mr. Bryan.

‘Over the past year it has been a tremendous privilege for me to partner through the YCLA with many of organisations and individuals who are making a difference in the lives of Cayman young people,’ Mr. Ryan said.

‘I have been truly inspired and encouraged to continue to do more to shape positive futures for our youth, and I am looking forward to seeing the YCLA continue to carry out that mission in the years to come.’

Saturday night’s YCLA event at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman celebrated 10 years since the award’s establishment in 2000.

Part of this anniversary celebration involved a shake-up in the usual format for the evening.

‘The night sparkled with a fresh new format of presenting the live telecast first and then continuing the celebration of all five finalists among their family, friends and co-workers. The mood promoted socialising and networking and the feedback from the guests could not have been better,’ said YCLA Coordinator Melissa Wolfe.

This year’s keynote speaker, Mark Sanborn, is the author of eight books and noted authority on the topic of leadership development. One of his books, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, launched the premise of his talk at the awards ceremony, in which he touched on the responsibility of all citizens to lead and guide their fellow citizens.

‘During the live telecast, the keynote speaker really hit the nail on the head with his delivery about not needing a title to be a leader and that it is everyone’s responsibility to take the lead,’ said Mrs. Wolfe. ‘He was very motivating.’

A moving moment during the ceremony came when Rayle Roberts accepted an honourary award on behalf of his late wife Estella Scott-Roberts. The audience members came to their feet to show their respect for the community activist, who was nominated for the award in 2004. A montage of clips from her nominee video from that year was played prior to Mr. Roberts’ acceptance speech.

‘Within that video, the YCLA also promoted and endorsed the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation, and many members and family attended as special guests of the YCLA,’ explained Mrs. Wolfe.

Other guests included students from John Gray High School, as the 2009 finalists were involved with an outreach initiative, called YCLA at John Gray, with the school.

‘Students who participated in YCLA at John Gray were at the event, supervised by the programme organisers, which comprises YLCA Alumni and JGHS teachers working together,’ said Mrs. Wolfe.