KINGSTON — National Child Month was officially launched on Wednesday, April 6 at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston, under the theme, "Our World… Their Future… Our Responsibility".
The National Child Month Committee (NCMC) will kick off activities with a Thanksgiving and Prayer Service on Sunday, May 1, at the Trinity Moravian Church, 29 Montgomery Avenue, Kingston 10, starting at 8:00 a.m.
Churches islandwide will be asked to celebrate the day, by making their services child-focused and allowing children to participate in the services.
National Action Day will be observed on May 6, with the national activity to be undertaken at the Early Stimulation Project, Hanover Street, downtown Kingston. Other activities to mark the month will include the Children Symposium, scheduled for May 11, starting at 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Institute of Jamaica. The awards ceremony for the popular poster and essay competitions will be held on May 27.
A children’s fun day and a mini expo will be held on May 28 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in recognition of the month. The NCMC will also observe International Children’s Day, a designation of the United Nations, on Friday,
November 18. The final activity for 2011 will be a children’s treat on November 25, when children of various inner city communities and children’s homes will be treated.
Chairperson of the NCMC, Dr. Pauline Mullings, told the launch that many parents were too busy, and were missing out on their responsibility to nurture, train and guide their children, in an effective manner.
“We have also shunned our responsibility, as we fail to discipline our children in love,” she remarked. “Discipline can only be effective when it is structured, consistent, predictable and fair."
Patron of Child Month, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Limited, Douglas Orane, said Jamaicans must be more vigilant about the circumstances of the children.
“When a child is abused in any way, is hungry or discriminated against and dies as a result of neglect, all Jamaicans are to be held accountable,” he argued.
Mr. Orane said the Government has done its best to create agencies to protect the rights of the child, including the Children’s Registry, the Child Development Agency and the Office of the Children’s Advocate. However, he said that despite the valiant efforts of these agencies, they cannot effectively protect children without assistance from the wider society.
Traditional stalwarts, such as the church, voluntary organisations and the community at large, still had a significant part to play, he suggested.
“We must return to those days when all children were regarded as the wards of all members of a community, and we took care of each other’s children,” he stated, adding “we must return to taking care of children on the street. We must be aware of our neighbour's emotional wellbeing, and find creative ways in helping them to get through the rough times."
Child Month was first celebrated in May, 1953 under the patronage of Lady Foote, wife of the then Governor.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter