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Cayman Islands YMCA Leaders, Soldiers for Youth

This past weekend the YMCA of the Cayman Islands hosted its 4th Annual Leaders for Youth Conference, which brought together near 150 YMCA staff, volunteers, teen leaders and community partners, to learn from each other and grow as leaders in their community. The event featured workshops led by local community partners: the National Drug Council, Family Resource Centre and Alex Panton Foundation, as well as international partners from the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg (Florida) and the Westfield Area Y (New Jersey).

The theme of the Conference was “Special Forces”, highlighting YMCA leaders as a carefully selected and highly trained group fighting a different kind of war each day. The two-day conference kicked off with leadership training for YMCA programme coordinators and professional staff which included topics such as Coaching High Performance and Evaluating Programme Quality. Visiting Y professionals also enjoyed visiting the Bodden Town, Clifton Hunter, East End and Edna. M. Moyle after-school sites.

The second day of the conference consisted of workshops under the theme “Special Forces” and focused on training, organising and equipping participants to be able to have a significant impact on the lives of the youth with which they engage. Topics included “Developing the Character of Teens”, “Overcoming Challenging Behaviours”, “Discovering Your Inner Child”, “Understanding Children’s Temperaments”, “Connecting with Parents”, “Taking Care of YOU!” and “Mental Health Awareness”.

Joel Francis, Acting Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, joined the conference for their opening session on Saturday morning and provided opening remarks, encouraging all the participants, “I trust that each of you will come away from this Conference with your resolve strengthened, your enthusiasm stirred and your creativity increased as you sharpen the tools and skills you already have in order to launch a successful attack on those distractions and detractors that would try to steal what rightfully belongs to our children and youth: their future.“

Mr Francis concluded with his thanks from the Ministry, “I would just like to take a moment to thank the YMCA for its much needed and valuable service to our community. The Ministry of Education’s partnership with the Y is a very successful one. The Government Extended After-School Programme run by the Y is a great example of public and private entities coming together and making a meaningful impact. One hundred Y staff members reaching over 1300 youth each year at 9 sites serving 15 schools across Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac is a significant undertaking. The YMCA is on the front lines of the battle every day fighting for Cayman’s youth. Thank you to all of you – staff, volunteers, board members, teachers – for your hard work and commitment and answering the call. History will record the difference you have made in the lives of our children and you will have the thanks of a grateful nation.”

“The Annual YMCA Leaders for Youth Conference is always such an empowering event for all of us who have the privilege of serving our community. We all come with different backgrounds, cultures, worldviews and experiences but we are all united around the Y’s core values of honesty, caring, respect, responsibility and faith, and this realisation makes it so much easier to work together to make our country a better place,” said YMCA Cayman’s CEO Greg Smith.

“Our theme this year, “Special Forces”, was a powerful one. Each day we battle against destructive forces that steal opportunities from our children to reach their full potential. Just like military elite forces, we have to become militant, creative and single-minded in our efforts to capture the attention, engage the hearts, and inspire the minds of our youth so that they can fulfil their purpose on earth. I believe participants this year have come away with a renewed sense of commitment and determination to make a difference in the lives of Cayman’s children and youth and the general community.”

For more information about the YMCA Cayman Islands, log on to, email [email protected] or call 926.9622.


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