More than two dozen students learned leadership skills and participated in community service projects while attending the first Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program sponsored by the Rotary and Rotaract clubs of the Cayman Islands.
A total of 28 students between the ages of 15 and 18 attended the sessions from Aug. 13 to 16.
Martin Ruben, chairman of the program’s organizing committee, described it as a “resounding success.”
“The students all felt that it was something that they would take forward in their lives and make a difference in making choices going forward,” Mr. Ruben said.
On the first day, in sessions at the University College of the Cayman Islands, students learned about leadership styles and took a quiz to determine their own leadership personalities. On the second day, students volunteered at a YMCA day camp and at the Pines and Golden Age retirement homes.
They also spent the afternoon on the beach, informing people about polio, which Rotary International is dedicated to eradicating. The students also collected funds for worldwide polio prevention programs. Mr. Ruben said the students were pleased to find that they could make a difference locally on a global issue.
On the third day, the students learned about leadership pitfalls.
“You need to understand what possible impact you might be having as a leader in your sphere of influence,” Mr. Ruben said.
On Saturday evening, students were treated to a freestyle rap performance by youth motivational speaker Rashad Jones. On the final day of the event, students learned how to be successful leaders in their own lives.
Mr. Ruben pointed out that Rotary Youth Leadership Awards are held all over the world. He said Cayman Rotary clubs have been sending students from the Cayman Islands to the awards event in Florida every year for the past 15 years. This year, the clubs decided to host their own event in order to give more students the opportunity to participate.
The Rotary clubs will continue to send some students to the event in Florida. In the past, students were nominated by schools and the public to be sent to Florida. This year the clubs will send four students who won awards at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards on island.
The four students, awarded for leadership traits, such as integrity, that they demonstrated during the four-day event were Kayla Prendergast, Brandon Saunders, Zoe Basdeo and John Tomlinson.
Mr. Ruben said the Rotary and Rotaract clubs are prepared to host the awards program on an annual basis.
“We feel it’s important for youth on the island to have as many opportunities to be engaged in leadership training and become better leaders in our community,” Mr. Ruben said.