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Youth Parliamentarians

Cayman: Youth Parliamentarians to Debate Two Apt Topics

Grand Cayman, 10 March 2022 – Twenty-four students from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac are hard at work preparing for their big day in Youth Parliament at 10.30 am on Monday, 14 March 2022, which is World Commonwealth Day.

Once again, local law firm Harneys is picking up the tab as the sole sponsor of the 15th Commonwealth ParliamentaryAssociation (CPA) Youth Parliament that is being organised by the local branch of the CPA.
            This year’s Youth Parliament is also part of events for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which are underway in the Cayman Islands to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Her Majesty’s ascension to the throne.
            The students, aged 14-19 years, are from local high schools: John Gray, Clifton Hunter, St. Ignatius, Cayman Prep, Cayman International School, Triple C and Layman E. Scott High School and tertiary institutions – University College of the Cayman Islands, University of Sussex and Florida Tech.

Participating as government and opposition bench members, as well as official members and parliamentary officials, the youth parliamentarians will debate two timely topics.
One will be introduced by the government bench proposing a comprehensive “bill” on criminalising sexual harassment, including hefty fines and jail time for persons committing sexual harassment, as well as for falsely accusing someone of sexual harassment. The call is also for educational institutions to formulate a sexual harassment policy.
Equally importantly, the students will debate the challenges that the local real estate market poses to land and home ownership by Caymanians, in particular young Caymanians.

They have had pointers on debating, researching, presentation, their conduct in the House, the rules of the House and how Parliament works as well as information and guidance from Organising Committee members: Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks – Chair and Deputy Speaker; Minister Hon. Kenneth Bryan; MPs Mr. Joey Hew and Ms Barbara Conolly have helped the students prepare for their debates with presentations.
Additionally, they also received input for their debates from former MPs, Mr. Ezzard Miller, Mr. Arden McLean and from local government, business and industry: Ms Cheryl Neblett, First Legislative Counsel; Ms Mariesha Spencer, Cayman Islands Crisis Centre Outreach Coordinator; Dr. Josette Lawrence and staff – toastmasters; Mr. Uche Obi, Chief Valuation Officer, Department of Planning; Mr. Haroon Pandohie, Director of Planning; Mr. Tristan Hydes, Deputy Chief Officer, Ministry of Planning; Mr. Charles Brown, Senior Policy Advisor, Planning Department; Mr. Michael Joseph, Property Cayman; Mr. Andrew Woodcock, attorney and former Truman Bodden Law School lecturer;; Ms Laura Panades, TBLS law lecturer; and Mr. Julio Ramos, Director, National Housing Development Trust.

“It has been a hectic schedule for the youth parliamentarians so far,” explained Chairperson, Hon. Ebanks-Wilks. “We have a bright and eager group of young individuals who are preparing and getting ready for their big day. We as MPs are happy to be able to impart information to them, in particular the senior, more experienced MPs in the House.
“They, and we, are looking forward to a great day on Monday, especially since the Youth Parliament provides an insight into the minds and thinking of our younger generation on some very relevant local topics.”
Organising Coordinator and Facilitator and Clerk of the Parliament, Mrs. Zena Merren-Chin added, “The youth selected the topics themselves and have been preparing for them for some time. From 5 October 2021 to 5 February 2022, they attended one weekly session and since early February, they meet Tuesdays and Saturdays.”
Presenting the sponsor’s cheque for the sixth consecutive time, Harney’s Partner, Ms Jessica Williams said: “Harneys are thrilled to continue their involvement and to sponsor such a great programme with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It is always fantastic to meet the bright young students who take part in the Youth Parliament programme and we wish each of them all the best for the future.”
Ms Williams noted, “Participants gain insight into the operations of parliament and learn public speaking skills, while associating with peers from other schools. By providing them with a platform to voice their opinions, they have an opportunity to debate on topics that affect their lives. By supporting this important endeavour, Harneys helps provide the resources required to ensure that future leaders of the local community benefit from a successful programme.”

Participant, Ms Sherika McPherson, who is the Speaker of the Youth Parliament, summed up the sentiments of the youth regarding their experience so far: “I have had a marvellous experience in Youth Parliament; it has opened my eyes to the complexities of parliamentary procedures and practices.” She added, “I now understand the role and importance of the Speaker of the House and I am thrilled to use this knowledge to manage the debate on Monday.”
Photos by Bina Mani, GIS and Ms Nordra Walcott, Parliament
1.  Local law firm Harneys Partner Ms Jessica Williams (right, front) presents a cheque to Youth Parliament Organising Committee Chairperson, Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks. The funding pays for this year’s Youth Parliament, similar to what the firm has been doing consecutively for the past six years.
2. Minister for Tourism and Transport, Hon. Kenneth Bryan provides insights on debating during his presentation to the participants.
3. Former Minister Mr. Joey Hew talks to the Opposition Bench.
4. MP and former Parliamentary Secretary, Ms Barbara Conolly addresses the Government Bench.
5. Former Opposition Leader, Mr. Arden McLean speaks to the participants.
6. Former Opposition Leader and PAC Chairman, Mr. Ezzard Miller provides pointers on debating.
7. L-r: Planning Director Mr. Haroon Pandohie and Deputy Chief Officer Mr. Tristran Hydes address the students.
8. Planning Senior Policy Advisor Mr. Charles Brown (right) talks to the students.
9. Realtor Mr. Michael Joseph of Property Cayman speaks to the students.
10. NHDT Director Mr. Julio Ramos addresses the students.
11. The Youth Parliamentarians also include students from the Brac who “attend” electronically.
For the official Cayman Islands Government web portal,


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