Cayman's Red Cross Deputy Shortlisted For Award

Cayman News Service

2013-1023-ky-CNS-CarolinaCarolina Ferreira.GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman (CNS) -- An outspoken activist who has been the force behind the local campaign to raise AIDS awareness has been shortlisted for a Commonwealth award.

Carolina Ferreira, the Cayman Islands Red Cross’ Deputy Director and HIV & AIDS Programme Manager, has been announced as one of the five regional finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Worker Award. The Youth Worker Awards are part of Youth Work Week 2013, which will run from 4 to 10 November. Youth Work Week raises awareness of the valuable role youth work plays in empowering and supporting young people. This is the first year that this award is being offered outside of the United Kingdom.

“We are incredibly proud of the work which we do as an organization and of the caliber of the service and programmes that we deliver to our community,” said Branch Director, Jondo Obi. “There are seven members of staff, who manage nearly 200 volunteers, five programmes, countless projects, and are on call to respond to any disaster. Carolina has been with the organization for ten years, and to have her work recognized is tremendous,” she added in a release from the Red Cross.

Ferreira began volunteering with the Cayman Islands Red Cross in 1997, and would assist the organisation whenever she was home on school breaks. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Haverford College in 2000 and went on to join the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s (MSPCC) foster and adoptive parent programme “Kid’s Net”.

Immediately upon returning home to Grand Cayman in 2002 she began working with the then CIRC Programme Coordinator to implement an HIV and AIDS Peer Education programme at the high school. By 2003, Ferreira was hired by the organization as the HIV and AIDS Programme Manager, tasked with ongoing development and expansion of the “Together We Can” (TWC) Peer Education Programme.

“The brilliant thing about Peer Education is the fact that it is not contained to a specific moment, or class, or semester,” Ferreira explained. “In training Peer Educators you train infiltrators who can take knowledge, facts and the truth to their peers and beyond. There is no way to measure the impact of one well trained peer educator because the knowledge they gain is with them for life and for them to share it with others- friends, family, partners, children- at any time. TWC aims at empowering youth with knowledge, getting them to think about their options, values and their choices, and helping to make informed decisions even before they are put in those hard situations,” she added.

During the summer of 2006, Ferreira successfully completed a month long workshop at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in “Leadership in Strategic Health Communication”. The knowledge and confidence she gained from that workshop played a key role in the expansion of the HIV and AIDS Department to include social marketing campaigns, such as the “HIV+...until proven negative” campaign, which featured Peer Educators from the TWC programme and highlighted a broad range of HIV related issues, from testing to discrimination. This campaign was hailed as an example of a “best practice” within the Caribbean region at the Red Cross Youth Network meeting in Guyana in 2008.

Over the course of the past decade Ferreira has become a known advocate for youth and youth related issues. Eloquent and unafraid of tackling taboo subjects, she continues to challenge norms and push boundaries that perpetuate the individual’s and community’s vulnerabilities.

Ferreira is competing against finalists from Jamaica, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. The Caribbean winner will be chosen to represent the region at the awards ceremony in London on October 30th, where s/he will compete for the Youth Worker Award against regional winners from Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

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