A group of students from local schools converged on the Government Administration Building Friday afternoon to urge an end to single-use plastics in the Cayman Islands.
Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour met the children on the front steps of the building and took letters from several schools advocating for a stand against plastic pollution. The rally, timed in coordination with World Oceans Day, aims to see a plastic-free Cayman in the future.
“I like your passion and your drive and your dedication to trying to help this environment and ridding us of plastics. I really appreciate that it’s coming from children. We need to preserve the next generation. That’s what’s important,” Mr. Seymour said.
Students from Montessori by the Sea, Cayman International School, Cayman Prep Primary and Cayman Prep High School, St. Ignatius and Edna M. Moyle Primary School took part in the event. The kids ranged in ages from 5 to 16, and they all were thrilled to be part of a movement for a healthier Cayman.
Students from Hope Academy, Clifton Hunter High School and John A. Cumber Primary School also participated Friday but were unable to attend the gathering at the government building.
Catherine Childs, education programs manager for the National Trust, said it was important to underline the dangers of plastic to the environment. It was also important, she said, to hear from the future residents of Cayman, who will be living with the effects of pollution tomorrow and down the road.
“We asked the school kids if they would like to have a voice in this debate, and they were so overwhelmingly excited to have the opportunity to express themselves,” said Ms. Childs. “They’re our future Caymanians and they want to have a voice in how the future looks, so they’ve written letters to the government asking them to please ban certain types of plastics from the Cayman Islands.”
The theme of World Oceans Day is “preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean,” and the children were congratulated for being responsible stewards of the future environment.
“In the Caribbean, it’s a growing problem. In Cayman, we certainly have our fair share,” said Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Department of Environment. “You just have to walk any beach and you can see the plastic that comes in from the sea.… It’s a really troubling and very serious problem, and I’m really happy to see this small army that’s going to be ready to assist the Department of Environment.”
The National Trust and Plastic Free Cayman organized the event, and once they reached out to the schools to participate, they found a receptive audience. The students and their teachers began crafting letters and petitions to hand to the government in the hopes of reaching the highest levels of power.
“It was a combined effort by many of the teachers at CIS. All the way from pre-K through high school,” said Bill LaMonte, a high school science teacher at Cayman International School. “We are all passionate about this and the students are passionate about it, so it wasn’t difficult to create a strong message. I think today is a great event that shows them change is possible through small acts.”