More than 80 teenagers from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac met at the Family Life Centre last Friday for the first Youth Empowerment Conference #IAM2K17.

The six-hour program hosted by the Department of Children and Family Services aimed to get youth thinking about cultural heritage and personal identity.

U.S.-based motivational speaker Javier Sanchez used comedy and rap to relate his personal story of overcoming gang life and drug dealing. Mr. Sanchez previously worked as a youth development worker in Grand Cayman. As the current CEO of R.E.A.C.H. Communications Inc., he promotes youth empowerment and self-determination. He told the teenagers their potential is limitless and encouraged them to think about the people they want to be now and in the future.

Local rapper Justin Johnson also performed original music.

Department Director Felicia Robinson said the activity was part of efforts to increase youth participation during Child Month.

“This is because we recognize participation as a critical pillar in developing our children today, for leadership tomorrow,” she said in a press statement.

“The underlying purpose of this conference is consistent with our deliberate outreach, [and our] preventive and education strategy of empowering our children and youth and helping them discover their voice.”

Other contributors to the event were Youth Services Unit, the National Drug Council, Lions Club of Grand Cayman, Foster’s Food Fair, Tips n Toes, Cayman National Bank and University College of the Cayman Islands.

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