Dart’s Minds Inspired is preparing to roll-out a new sustainable development education challenge to all local high schools in September 2021, following a successful pilot programme with Cayman International School.

The challenge is based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - also known as the SDGs - a global framework for ending poverty, protecting the planet, and addressing a range of social issues. Participating students are asked to put themselves in the role of leaders grappling with multiple competing issues and working together as a team to select a project which, if implemented, would help create a more sustainable Cayman by 2030.

"The project gives the students an opportunity to enhance transferable skills such as teamwork, research, critical thinking, persuasive writing and pitching to an audience while having the opportunity to see themselves as community members, working together to achieve a more sustainable Cayman Islands," said Dart CEO Mark VanDevelde.

The Challenge

Launching in the fall semester, the programme is intended to help the students, Cayman’s future leaders, better understand the three main pillars of sustainability and the variety of local issues affecting people, planet and prosperity in the Cayman Islands.

Participating schools will be invited to nominate a team of five students to compete in the challenge.

Over the course of three, immersive sessions, the students will hear from local experts about the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development in Cayman; conduct their own research into the environmental, social and economic issues related to the SDGs in Cayman; and, at the final competition in November, use their skills of presentation and persuasion to pitch their potential solutions to a panel of judges.

Dart Education Programmes Senior Manager Glenda McTaggart said the programme is looking forward to welcoming interested students from across the Cayman Islands.

“Through this unique programme, our next generation of leaders will consider the challenges and opportunities of balancing social, environmental and economic considerations for a more sustainable future while developing important academic and social skills, and building their resumes,” she said. “A programme like this can also fulfil community service requirements for certain high schools.”

Local high school students who are interested in taking part in the 2021 SDG Challenge should speak with their teacher about getting involved and visit the Minds Inspired website to learn more.

Pilot programme

Ahead of rolling the SDG Challenge out to all local high schools, Minds Inspired met with local high school teachers to gather input and hosted a pilot programme at Cayman International School.

The condensed, three-day programme opened with a panel of three subject-matter experts who discussed their experiences with the SDGs in Cayman, each representing one of the three pillars of sustainable development.

The Wellness Centre Director Shannon Seymour represented the goals under the social pillar; National Trust for the Cayman Islands Environmental Programmes Manager Cathy Childs represented the environmental pillar; and FTS Director Paul Byles represented the economic pillar.

After the panel discussion, participating students worked in teams to discuss local issues and brainstorm potential solutions. The students’ assignment included drafting a grant application to request funds for their project and pitching their idea — supported by an infographic outlining how their plan would work — to the panel of experts and an audience of guests which included H.E. Governor Martyn Roper.

The winning team focused on the dangers to coral reefs posed by certain sunscreens, outlining plans for legislative reform, a public education programme, a product exchange programme, and the provision of dispensers with free reef-safe sunscreen at popular sites around Cayman. They received CI$500 to donate to a local non-profit of their choice, with the funds going to Protect Our Future.

Two other teams received honourable mentions and chose to donate CI$250 each to Protect Our Future and Feed Our Future. Students in the top three teams were also given a certificate and a personalised letter to add to their portfolios.

Speaking on behalf of his teammates, CIS student Yeno Szabo said: “We chose to donate to Feed our Future because after to hear from Shannon Seymour with the Wellness Centre, we realised that there are many kids that face food security challenges. We wanted to donate to an established non-profit organisation that has already a system in place and could help right away.”

For more information, visit https://mindsinspired.ky/events/sdg-challenge.