Former MLA Lucille Seymour used to talk a lot about how young Caymanian males have lost their way. No longer having their lives planned out for them at sea, many teenagers and young men seem to struggle to find their niche in life.
As we have seen all too well in recent years, a number of young males fall in with bad crowds – even gangs – as they seek to establish an identity.
Finding ways of focusing young Caymanian males on more productive paths is a challenge, especially with so much borrowed culture.
One thing that a good number of male youths – from boys to teenagers to young adults – have found direction in is skateboarding.
Skateboarding offers enthusiasts of the sport exercise, discipline and structure. As an individual sport, it requires dedication on the part of the participant and promotes the notion that practice makes perfect. It hones coordination and agility and fosters imagination as kids try to come up with new tricks to perform.
Grand Cayman is privileged to have one of the world’s largest and most unique skateboarding facilities in the Black Pearl Skate Park. It’s unique enough that many of the world’s best skateboards have visited the Island and coached the kids. In the last year alone it has also gained international media attention, with 10 film companies choosing to film here.
As skateboarding has become more popular, it has grown in recognition. It seems inevitable that skateboarding will eventually qualify as an Olympic sport and if it does, the Cayman Islands would find itself with a great training facility and a chance to send elite athletes to the Olympics.
However, in a small market, Black Pearl has to operate on a shoestring budget to get by.
The business was lucky to hire one special employee, JR Cameron, who acts as a jack-of-all-trades, including a skateboarding teacher and coach. His job is a labour of love, as Cameron took a pay cut to coach kids and raise the level of the sport he loves in the Cayman Islands.
Because of his passion and his way with children, the kids love him. The parents love him. His employer loves him. Unfortunately, the Work Permit Board does not and they turned down his key employee application.
Cameron has now reached his term limit and must leave the Cayman Islands. His employer, who views him as next to impossible to replace given the Skate Park’s operating budget, has to worry about the feasibility of the facility, especially in difficult economic times.
Somehow, we just can’t see all this as a productive result of the seven-year term limit.