The CAYS Children and Youth Services awarded 15 recipients under the theme ‘youth empowered, breaking barriers’ at the Harquail Theatre last Wednesday.
At the awards ceremony, the young people were told they could achieve great things with the help of God and the people around them.
Guest speaker Elroy Bryan, the YCLA 2009 recipient, reminded residents one cannot say if success or failure in life was due to parents, friends or teachers. ‘At the end of the day, we have to decide what we want in life,’ he said.
Mr. Bryan said at first he was an underachiever in school, but soon learnt that in order for him to succeed, he had to be responsible for his own actions.
‘You have strength within you, there are so many forces that want to see you fail, but there are just as many forces out there that want to see you succeed,’ he said.
‘There are many that care about you. All of you have been given talents that you can do great things in life,’ he said. ‘You’re like a key – the doors of opportunity you can open depend on how you allow your lives to be shaped and moulded.’
Mr. Bryan reminded recipients of Barack Obama’s slogan: ‘Yes we can.’
Others reminded the recipients leaving the education system and being exposed to the real world that they needed to start thinking positively about where they were going and what they were doing.
Minister of Community Affairs Mike Adam urged the recipients to continue to take great pride in overcoming obstacles that confront them as human beings.
‘That voice of internal doubt that persists in saying I can’t do it, I can’t make it, I am not good enough – the awards you will receive this evening are a reminder of the success and fulfilment and determination it brings – they are just the beginning,’ he said.
‘Your theme ‘youth empowered, breaking barriers’ is a testament to that fact.’
He added: ‘Though you have received tremendous assistance from your family, teachers and case managers, ultimately it is the belief that each of you has in yourselves and in your own ability to break barriers that could have restrained you.
‘Just as an oyster, you have taken a crustacean and crafted it into a beautiful pearl. As each pearl is unique, so too is each of your personal achievements. I congratulate you for breaking those barriers.’
Mr. Adam went on to say: ‘Obstacles are a part of life. They will always confront you and stand in your way. However, it is the choices that you will make to conquer them or let them conquer you that will continue to make the vital difference.’
CAYS Foundation Education Coordinator Michael Stewart said the foundation was happy to report that residents had accomplished some goals.
The foundation works with and provides residential care to at-risk youths aged 10 to 19 who are deemed in need of safe shelter and protection.
Outstanding academic achievers were Alexander Smiley and Brianna Espino. Most improved was Eatton Brown.
Top performers in the employment training programme were Terie-Joe Barrows and Nikki Sandoval.
Outstanding resident in the apprenticeship programme was Nikki Sandoval.
Sportsmanship awards went to Terie-Joe Barrows and Shandi Sandoval.
Most disciplined resident was Samantha Saint-Vil.
Reading awards went to Alexander Smiley, Kizzie Codlyn, Terie-Joe Barrows and Shandi Sandoval received most improved reader.