Elroy Bryan looks back on YCLA experience

Outgoing Young Caymanian Leadership
Award winner Elroy Bryan looks back on the past year with a bit of amazement.

 As someone who once said he was  not comfortable speaking in public, he  managed to pull off 36 speaking engagements in
the course of a year.

Mr. Bryan, now in his 11th
year instructing special needs kids in physical education at the Lighthouse
School, says he was shocked, and humbled when he learned he was the 2009 YCLA

“Looking around now, I realize how
many people around me have supported me for so long, and got me where I am
today,” he said.

 “And the young people here are such an inspiration,
they helped me look deeper into what it means to be a leader.”

Mr. Bryan is a man on the go – he’s
not even able to make it to the YCLA gala this year.

“I am heading to Puerto Rico for
the Special Olympics Latin America Games, so I unfortunately had to send my
regrets,” he said.

The lifelong athlete has a history
of doing Cayman proud, as a bronze medallist in shot put at CARIFTA, after playing
baseball in college, as national director of Cayman Little League.

Married to Kenyatta, with two
daughters Alannah, 4, and Amayah, 2, he hopes he can involve his family in the
twice-a-week Special Olympics training days at which he volunteers.

I college, where he met Kenyatta,
he was passionate about sports, and in college he played baseball and majored
in physical education.

He was struck by how much harder he
had to train in the US than he was used to back home.

 “I also realized that even if I was not so
good academically, I was able to succeed at sports because I really put an
effort into it.”

The connection was made between
discipline and success and he realized how attending college is a valuable

“You learn a lot about
responsibility, about time management, and it helps you become well rounded. It
is not just about whether you get a job, you meet all sorts of different
people, which helps you understand the world better.”

While his YCLA duties were a big
time commitment, Mr. Bryan said he was inspired by the Ralph Waldo
Emerson-based remark that “the task ahead of you is never as great as the
strength within you.”

“I might have shied away from the
challenge, but every day at the Lighthouse School we tell our students ‘Yes we
can!’ so I was really inspired by that,” he said.

God was also a great inspiration.
As he grew up at the Church of Christ of West Bay, he said that while as a
young man his religious decisions were made for him, at university he decided
for himself the lifestyle he would lead.

He tries to connect with young
people he sees are facing challenges.

He says he found a visit to the
Alternative Education Centre for a speaking engagement particularly striking,
as he began to fully appreciate all the support he’d received over the years,
and the role he might play in young people’s lives.

“Having grown up here, I know at
least some of what they are talking about and what they are going through,” he

He does not intend to stop his
outreach activities, now that he’s gained such confidence in his time as YCLA

“I want to try to continue to make
a bigger difference,” he said.

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