Two youth parliamentarians, Chauntae Martinez and Adrian Stewart, are representing the Cayman Islands at the ninth Commonwealth Youth Parliament, which is currently taking place in Jersey, United Kingdom.
Ms. Martinez, 19, and Mr. Stewart, 21, left for Jersey on board Cayman Airways on Saturday. The youth parliament is taking place until Thursday, March 1.
Ms. Martinez has participated in the Cayman Islands Youth Parliament for three years and was the Speaker at last year’s event. She is now an associate degree student at the University College of the Cayman Islands.
A medical student at St. Matthew’s University, Mr. Stewart headed the government bench as premier in the Cayman Youth Parliament in 2014 and was part of the Cayman delegation at the 10th Regional Youth Parliamentary Debate in Barbados.
They are joining more than 50 Commonwealth youth delegates, aged 18 to 29, at the youth parliament, which is hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the States Assembly in Saint Helier.
The week-long Commonwealth Youth Parliament provides a key development opportunity for young people from the Commonwealth with ambitions of public office and is designed to demonstrate to potential future young parliamentarians the fundamentals behind the processes of parliament, according to a CPA press release.
Throughout the week, current members of parliament from different jurisdictions act as mentors for the young parliamentarians.
In a notable departure from previous years, this youth parliament, in recognition of the non-party system in the States Assembly in Jersey, will see youth participants acting as the government, opposition and independents sitting together, allowing for the wider sharing of opinions and engagement in debates.
Participants will experience parliamentary life in a real-life situation in the legislative chamber and the program will include taking part in parliamentary procedures, debating legislation and motions, and facing the press in a mock media conference, the release adds.
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Akbar Khan, who attended the opening of the Commonwealth Youth Parliament, said, “With 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s population aged under 30, the Commonwealth Youth Parliament is one of the key programs organized by the CPA and responds to the needs of its young constituents.
“The CPA recognizes that young people have a proven capability to lead change, and are a vital and valuable investment for now and the future.”
Mark Egan, greffier [assembly clerk] of the States Assembly, said he was delighted to welcome so many young people from across the Commonwealth to Jersey for this “exciting and unique” opportunity.
“The Commonwealth Youth Parliament will allow young people to develop their leadership skills and experience our historic parliament, as well as empower them to make a positive difference in shaping the future of their own communities,” he said.