Office of Children’s Advocate Opens Therapeutic Room

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison (left), and Northern Caribbean University (NCU) students show off some of the tools and aids that will be used in the newly opened therapeutic playroom at the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) in downtown Kingston. They are (from second left) Kemar Daswell, Chandrika Campbell, Acoya Rademari, and Leon Ffrench. Also pictured is Manager for Public Education and Special Projects at the OCA, Latoya Minott-Hall. The playroom, which was officially opened recently, was prepared under a partnership with the NCU team. It will be used by the OCA’s Investigations Unit to treat and counsel children ages two to 18

Story Highlights

  • Adorned with a beautiful hand-painted mural, and outfitted with age-appropriate toys and furnishings, the new therapeutic playroom at the Office of the Children’s Advocate’s downtown Kingston offices will provide a safe and comfortable space for youngsters who have suffered traumatic experiences.
  • The soft tone of the room, in shades of blue, pink, grey, purple and green, is highlighted by the mural, which depicts a nature scene with trees, flowers and butterflies. There are beanbags instead of chairs, and books, dolls and other toys.
  • Its mission is to promote and protect the rights and best interests of children through vigilance, strategic partnerships and the provision of timely, efficient and quality service.

Adorned with a beautiful hand-painted mural, and outfitted with age-appropriate toys and furnishings, the new therapeutic playroom at the Office of the Children’s Advocate’s downtown Kingston offices will provide a safe and comfortable space for youngsters who have suffered traumatic experiences.

The playroom will be used by the OCA’s Investigations Unit to treat and counsel children aged two to 18.

The soft tone of the room, in shades of blue, pink, grey, purple and green, is highlighted by the mural, which depicts a nature scene with trees, flowers and butterflies. There are beanbags instead of chairs, and books, dolls and other toys.

Such rooms encourage healing through play and provide an environment of physical and emotional safety for children.

Transformed through partnership with the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), the room was officially handed over on October 18.

The initiative was in fulfilment of the community outreach component of a Group Dynamics and Leadership course being pursued by four NCU students – Kemar Daswell, Acoya Rademari, Chandrika Campbell and Leon Ffrench.

Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, said she is grateful for the assistance from the students, who converted an empty room into a calm and relaxing space where children can be interviewed.

 

She said with this room, children being catered to by the OCA “will be able to open up as best as possible about the very difficult circumstances to which they would have been exposed”.

Mrs. Gordon Harrison noted that the play area is extremely important in advancing the work of the OCA, which was relocated to the 11th floor of the Air Jamaica Building in 2016.

She said it was ensured that space was identified to accommodate children within the retrofitting plans for the office.

The Children’s Advocate said that having a comfortable setting will facilitate easier communication with children who are hurting and find it difficult to speak about what they are going through.

“We see this playroom as really providing that space that would (help children to) relax a little bit more, find some more ease with disclosing what is a very painful experience as opposed to being locked in an office where they are sitting around a desk with somebody who is merely recording a statement,” she noted.

Manager for Public Education and Special Projects at the OCA, Latoya

Minott-Hall, expressed gratitude to the “committed students who understand and have a drive and passion and a desire to help with the (children) whom we serve here”.

Through the partnership with the NCU, students from the institution are serving as interns at the OCA. The first group started in April and another group came on in June.

Mrs. Minott-Hall noted that the assistance of the students has helped to alleviate staff constraints and lighten the workload of the agency.

Kemar Daswell, who assisted on the therapy room project and is serving as an intern, told JIS News that the students are pleased with the outcome and the positive impact it will have on the beneficiaries.

The project was carried out with support from Berger Paints, Food For The Poor and Do Good Jamaica/Crayons Count.

The OCA is mandated to enforce and protect the rights and best interests of children. The office was established in 2006 under the Child Care and Protection Act (2004).

Its mission is to promote and protect the rights and best interests of children through vigilance, strategic partnerships and the provision of timely, efficient and quality service.

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