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Minister Osbourne Bodden’s Message for UN International Youth Day 2015

GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman (GIS) -- The United Nations has earmarked today (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) as International Youth Day, with the theme being “Youth Civic Engagement.”

I welcome the United Nations’ choice of theme for International Youth Day 2015.

This particular topic is very near and dear to me, because I believe that there are few ways which are better at building a more cohesive and sustainable community, and developing leaders of tomorrow, than by encouraging our young people’s civic engagement.

For these reasons, my Ministry supports a number of youth programmes which offer opportunities for this type of community involvement. I encourage parents, teachers and young people themselves to avail themselves of the many opportunities to get involved.

Some of these are the Cayman Island Cadet Corps, the Cayman Islands Scouts, the Pathfinders, the Lightbearers, the Girl Guides, the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme and the Girls Brigade.

Of course, our schools and many of the church youth groups are also involved in various initiatives throughout their communities.

Some of the larger international organisations which are also great proponents of civic engagement include the Rotaract and Leo Clubs. As a former member of the Rotaract Club and later the Lions Club, I highly recommend these groups to our young people. Leadership through service makes us all stronger, for it is through service that we begin to discover who we are as individuals and as a community.

Civic engagement enables young people to develop the ability to collaborate across sectors; develop empathy for different parts of our community; and develop habits and networks that make them more employable.

People who are involved in their communities from a young age become emotionally connected to society. They are more likely to stay engaged in their communities throughout their lives, and may even become involved in the political life of the country.

I encourage all individuals and agencies to help our young people to become even more engaged in their communities, which is critical in a fast-growing and rapidly-changing country such as ours.

Our youth are our most precious resource, and investments in their development now will yield tenfold the fruit in later years.