Shantelle Young and Tayvis Walters have been named as Cayman’s next youth ambassadors to the Caribbean Community, with Youth Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly marking the occasion on Wednesday by pinning the two with the ceremonial CARICOM pin.
Over the next two years, Young and Walters will receive training, represent Cayman in CARICOM events, and collaborate with other jurisdictions about issues that affect young people in the Caribbean.
Walters, a 22-year-old IT specialist with the law firm Appleby, said he wants to learn how to help promote tech education in Cayman.
“Being in the technology field, I hope to reach out to the youth to provide basic computer training services,” he said. “Not all youth are able to use a computer as well as we are as professionals, so providing basic coursing – typing, website design, software development – for the youth.”
Young, a 23-year-old corporate administrative assistant for Dart, said she wants to promote youth empowerment and mental health awareness.
Serving as youth ambassadors to CARICOM could be a launching pad for the two to accomplish their goals and much more, according to Youth Services acting head James Myles.
“This ambassadorship is almost like another rite of passage for our young people,” he said.
Myles said he and now-Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers were youth ambassadors to the Commonwealth in 1999. They went to South Africa, where the focus was on developing national youth policies throughout the Commonwealth.
A year later, the Department of Youth and Sports was formed – as called for in Cayman’s own national youth policy, according to Myles.
The CARICOM youth ambassadors programme was formed in 2002. Previous youth ambassadors include Christopher Goddard and Tricia Cacho from 2002-2004, Mason Chisholm and Nicosia Lawson from 2005-2007, Carla Martin from 2008-2012, James Geary and Takiyah Smith from 2012-2017, and Andrel Harris and Camille Angel from 2017-2019.
Harris and Angel were at the pinning ceremony on Wednesday, and both said they had tremendously positive experiences during their time as youth ambassadors.
Harris said Cayman is one of the region’s wealthiest jurisdictions, and the challenges it faces are different than those in other, poorer countries. But the challenges facing Cayman’s youth are the same as in any other Caribbean country – teenage pregnancy, gangs, drugs, alcohol, “the whole nine yards”, he said.
Harris described his collaboration with other youth ambassadors as like a “think tank”, where they discussed youth issues and their potential solutions.