(CMR) Last Thursday, 7 October, the Cayman Islands Public Library Service partnered with Friends of the Library and Christian Lifestyle Publishing for the first Cayman Young Writers Award Ceremony.
The event, held on ZOOM, also facilitated the launch of a book entitled: ‘In Their Own Write,' a compilation of short stories on various subjects from 15 young authors aged 12-17 years from throughout the Cayman Islands.
Ministry of Education Chief Officer Joel Francis delivered opening remarks on behalf of the Minister for Education, Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly. He thanked the various groups for partnering with the Library Service on this initiative.
“This initiative is a clear demonstration that you have recognized the importance of developing literacy through creative writing, as a means of helping our youth develop their self-expression and an avenue for showcasing and promoting our history and cultural heritage,” he said.
While providing the background of the competition, Friends of the Library's Chairperson Mike Pilling used the opportunity to express his satisfaction with the range of participants.
“We had entrants not just from Grand Cayman but also from Cayman Brac. We had equal numbers of boys and girls, and we had participants from public schools, private schools, and homeschools, so we were very pleased with the diversity of those who participated,” Pilling stated.
The 45-minute online event also included readings from four of the book's featured authors, namely 17-year-old Aerin Ewing-Chow, 13-year-old Abriann Cooper, 15-year-old Jelani Hanson, and 13–year-old Rozharia Riley.
A team of judges, including Dr. Peter Paul, Special Assistant to the UCCI President, selected ‘Adelaid' by Jelani Hanson as the best story.
Commenting on behalf of the judges, Dr. Paul stated, “We have to commend these young people for putting themselves out there, being vulnerable and coming up with original ideas and expressing themselves so sincerely.”
For her part, Dr. Stephanie Fullerton-Cooper of the Cayman Literary Society also lauded the participants for the quality of their writing. “The future in writing in Cayman looks promising,” she remarked.
CIPLS Director Paul Robinson, who was quite pleased with the publication of the young authors' works, stated, “A copy of the book will be included in the ‘Cayman Collection' at George Town Library. Additional copies will also be made available for general lending at each public library.”