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Cayman Islands students focus on sustainable solutions to national issues 

Dart’s Minds Inspired launches inter-school SDG Challenge

L-R) Environmental panel members James Whittaker, President – Cayman Renewable Energy Association; Ahmed Elsheshtawy, Dart Energy and Sustainability Manager; Catherine Childs, Environmental Programmes Manager, National Trust for the Cayman Islands; and Jerrica Campbell, Senior Environmental Management Officer, Department of Environment. 

Over 40 students representing six Cayman Islands high schools have embarked on a challenge to consider the key economic, social and environmental issues in their communities and propose ideas for solutions aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

They are participating in the Minds Inspired SDG Challenge that was launched on Thursday, 1 February to encourage youth to learn about the SDGs, their interconnected natured and how they relate to the future of the Cayman Islands.  

 A student from Cayman International School asks the economic panel members a question

The United Nations adopted the SDGs as a call to action for countries across the world to combat areas of concern on a global level such as quality education, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production. 

The SDG Challenge is designed to equip children with the skills they will need for the jobs of the future and aligns with Dart’s commitment to sustainable growth in the Cayman Islands. It will culminate with the winning teams being awarded grants to implement a school-based or community-focused project. 

Minds Inspired is an educational initiative by Dart to encourage youth to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.  

(L-R) Facilitator Pilar Bush and economic panel members, Paul Byles, Director FTS/Financial Service Institute; Woody Foster, Managing Director, Fosters; and Steve McIntosh, Cayman Finance, CEO; spoke to students on the importance of this pillar in the community. 

“As a sustainable investor with a long-term outlook, we focus on creating foundations for tomorrow and on bringing initiatives like this to the forefront for the next generation of leaders to think about. It is always good to challenge their critical thinking skills, opening them up to receiving out-of-the-box thinking that could lead to practical solutions for real-life local issues,” said Dart Chief of Staff, Joanne Lawson.  

At the launch event, students learned the intricacies of the challenge and listened to a panel of subject matter experts to get a better understanding of how these issues impact our community and the complex challenges leaders encounter in prioritising issues, making decisions and allocating resources on a national level. After receiving insights from panellists, students brainstormed on ideas for projects related to the SDG’s economic, social or environmental pillars.  

Participating schools are Cayman Academy, Cayman International School (CIS), Cayman Prep & High School, Grace Christian Academy, John Gray High School and St. Ignatius Catholic School. Each team features seven students aged 11-18 with a support teacher. The inter-school challenge was launched after a pilot programme at CIS. 

Dart’s Senior Manager Education Programmes, Glenda McTaggart, underscored the importance of engaging youth with initiatives that focus on a sustainable future.  

“We want them to engage in critical thinking, while focusing on ideas on sustainability that can have a positive impact on their school or community. We want to help challenge them as they develop into visionary leaders of tomorrow with unique perspectives to the issues they face, not only today but in the future,” McTaggart said. 

Students will also participate in a day of workshops to equip them with skills needed for the challenge including research techniques and skills to pitch their project to a judging panel and guidance on requirements of completing an application for a grant to implement their project, if successful.  

The SDG Challenge culminates with a judging and awards ceremony on 25 April.  

For more information, visit www.mindsinspired.ky/events/sdg-challenge

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