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Cayman Islands Youth Parliamentarians in the House

Nineteen students enthusiastically “took over” the Legislative Assembly for a day.

Top Government officials lauded their commitment to months of preparation.

The Youth Parliamentarians debated two timely topics during the proceedings.

Nineteen students from Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman high schools as well as the University College of the Cayman Islands helped the Cayman Islands celebrate Commonwealth Day 2018 by enthusiastically participating in the annual Youth Parliament.

Hosted by the local branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) for the 11th time, this year’s event generated lively and heated debates between the government and opposition benches on two timely topics.

The first motion sought to amend the Education Law to extend the compulsory school leaving age to 18 years and to reinstate A-levels in the government high schools, which passed. One of the ideas posited during the debate was for the establishment of a full-scale technical and vocational school in the Cayman Islands to directly benefit non-academically minded youth.

The second motion wanted the Election Law amended to require candidates running for public office to reside in the districts they wish to represent and to live there for four years prior to the date of a general election. This motion failed.

At the opening ceremony in her opening remarks, CPA Youth Parliament Organising Committee Chair and Councillor, Ms Barbara Conolly highlighted the importance of establishing regular avenues for the Islands’ to elicit youth’s views on important and relevant topics. She suggested the establishment of a youth forum like the Youth Parliament to meet several times regularly during a year for the leaders and the general public to hear young persons’ views.

Giving his welcome address, Speaker and CPA Cayman Islands Branch President, Hon. McKeeva Bush emphasised that the local branch is committed to encouraging Cayman Islands’ youth to play their part in public life.

“We want to make their voices heard, we want them to gain a better understanding of the important issues we face as a community but most important of all, we want to elicit a representative viewpoint of our young people when we address these issues,” he said.

Lauding the youth and their mentors for the effort that they had invested in the event, the Speaker noted this ensures “the Cayman Islands’ potential human capital continues to grow strongly to take forward our vibrant parliamentary democracy into the future.”

The Speaker added, “As we saw in last year’s General Elections, our democracy is robust and continues to thrive and grow. And the more young people we can get interested in public life, the better for the future of the Cayman Islands.”

Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ezzard Miller, encouraged the youth to give their best in their debates, noting that nervousness prior to speaking assails even seasoned public speakers. He advised them to take a crucial few seconds to control their breathing to calm themselves and to focus better.

Declaring open the 11th CPA Youth Parliament, Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin praised the “tremendous effort” put in by all involved, most notably the students, and looked forward to the keen debating to follow.

Participants in this year’s Youth Parliament were:
Destinne Clarke-Falconer – Speaker; Ministers of Cabinet: Richard Weber (Premier), Jaclielie Bonilla-Williams, Kiarilyn Reyes, Tazmar Dawkins, Justin Ebanks, Mark Plowright, and Ashleigh Chin; Jenna Grant and Omar Fellow – ex-officio Members of Cabinet; Jenae Whittaker and Alejandro Whitaker – Government Backbench members; Reon Porter (leader of the Opposition), Daina Levy, Asia Bush, David Swan, Zariah Truman and Diamond Chamber – Opposition members; Chauntae Martinez – Clerk of the LA and Diana DeMercado – Serjeant-at-Arms.

Photo captions: Photos by Bina Mani, GIS
Youth Parliamentarians with the Leaders of Government, the Speaker and organising committee members
All stand when the Youth Parliament Speaker, Destinne Clarke-Falconer, arrives and takes the chair.

(L-r): Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Youth Parliament Premier Richard Webber and Speaker, Hon. McKeeva Bush

Leader of the Opposition Hon. Ezzard Miller speaks.

Speaker’s Procession has Serjeant-at-Arms Diana DeMercado, Speaker Destinne Clarke-Falconer and Clerk Chauntae Martinez


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