Children’s Advocate, Mrs. Mary Clarke, is urging adult Jamaicans to accommodate the “authentic participation” of children in activities in the society.
Speaking Friday (September 25) at the National Child Month Committee’s (NCMC) awards luncheon, for its essay and poster competitions, Mrs. Clarke said that if the country wants peace it has to promote child participation.
At the function, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, she noted that it is the responsibility of adults to answer children’s questions. She said adults should also provide children with enough information to allow them to participate in important decision making.
“We must provide our children with opportunities to express their views and opinions. They must be allowed to participate in decision making, when it is going to affect them,” she urged.
Six-year-old Tyron Drummond (front) of the George’s Plain Primary School shows off his second place poster in the 6-7 year old category of the National Child Month Committee’s (NCMC) poster competition to (left to right): Chairman of the NCMC, Dr. Pauline Mullings; Children’s Advocate, Mrs. Mary Clarke; and first place winner in the 6-9 year old category of the essay competition, Danielle Reece, of Stella Maris Preparatory School. The winners and runners-up were honoured at an awards luncheon Friday (September 25) at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
Mrs. Clarke also cautioned that children should not be manipulated, but be given choices, as they are intelligent and worthy of the confidence of adults.
She was speaking against the background of the NCMC’s essay and poster competition, which invited children to express their views on the theme, ‘Promoting Peace for a Safe and Healthy Environment’.
This was the fourth year of the competitions, which were open to children between six and 18 years old. Both competitions aimed to motivate children to think of solutions for national issues, as well as to make them aware of their place in the family and society.
This year the NCMC partnered with the Dispute Resolution Foundation, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
There were 61 entries in the poster competition, and 52 in the essay competition.
In a message, Patron of Child Month and Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Limited, Douglas Orane, noted that most of the entries were from the urban areas.
“For this competition, it is particularly important. This is a good thing as, no doubt, we in the city have far more to do regarding the protection of our environment,” he said.
Mr. Orane’s statement was particularly true for sixth form student at Wolmer’s Boys’ School, Adrian Green, who is from August Town in St Andrew. He placed third in the 15-18 year old category of the poster competition, and said that violence in his community was a motivating factor for entering the competition.
This was also the case for joint first place winners in the same category, Marrissa Muir, Peta Gay Allen and Yanique Suarez. They are part of the Mountain View Adolescence Programme as well as Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s mentorship programme. Their poster highlighted how unity, among persons with varying political views, could help to promote a safe environment.
Children placing first to third, in each of the four categories into which the competitions were divided, received prizes including trophies, medals, cash and gift baskets from the sponsors.