Dozen Proud of Them Caymanians named

The honourees arrive at the awards ceremony and pose on the red carpet alongside Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, Councillor Barbara Conolly, Chief Officer Cetonya Cacho, Deputy Chief Officer Joel Francis and Tammy Hopkins. - Photo: GIS

Twelve young Caymanians, ranging in age from 14 to 24, have been named the 2020 Proud of Them honourees for their achievements in academics, sports, career and community service.

Abbegale Seymour, Aliyah Myers, Arnold Berry, Lorena Morejon, Neesah Godet and Zariah Anglin were recognised in the category of academics. John Michael Bodden and Raeanne Ebanks-Hydes were both recognised in academics and sports. Janelle Woods was recognised for academics and community service. Hannah Peralta was recognised in academics and career while Stephon Wright and Shakur Ebanks were recognised in the categories of career and community service, respectively.

They were nominated by members of the public and selected out of 75 nominees.

The youngest honouree, Raeanne Ebanks-Hydes, 14, accepts her award from Chief Officer Cetonya Cacho and previews her billboard. – Photo: GIS

According to a press release from the Ministry of Youth, the 12 honourees were celebrated at a banquet ceremony at the Marriott Beach Resort on 16 Jan., which was hosted by the ministry and the Youth Services Unit.

The release quoted Acting Director of Youth Services Unit James Myles as saying, “The programme started in 2011 as a discussion at the National Youth Commission based on a problem we saw with our young people not receiving adequate coverage in the local media for their positive contributions to society. The idea of erecting the nation’s only roadside permanent billboards, featuring and celebrating exceptional young Caymanians was birthed to change the narrative. I am so proud of how the programme has evolved since and even happier about our Minister’s support and the mandate she has given to enhance the programme with a formal affair.”

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During the evening, each honouree received a monetary grant of $1,000 and previewed the roadside billboards that will bear their images.

Guest speaker Chauntol Clark, centre, with Proud of Them honourees Aliyah Meyers and Shakur Ebanks.

The first billboards appeared on local roadside on Friday, 17 Jan. Each month throughout this year, an honouree will be featured on the billboards.

Youth Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, in her banquet address, congratulated the honourees and said she was encouraged by their commitment to excellence.

“As time progresses and our nation evolves, the bar for excellence is continually raised,” she said. “I am equally impressed with the ability of our youth to set the bar to greater heights. Many former honourees have already elevated to notable members of our society, who now contribute significantly to the social and economic development of our nation.”

Guest speaker and 2016 Proud of Them honouree Chauntol Clark delivered a motivational speech and highlighted some of the opportunities that would become available to the honourees.

The UWI medical student challenged them to view their Proud of Them involvement as an opportunity and responsibility to contribute something even greater to society. “And I leave you with these four important questions that my father gave me to guide my own life. Ask yourself: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going and how am I going to get there?” said Clark.

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