Activities for Child Month got underway Friday (April 16), following an official launch at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston.
The Month which is being observed under the theme, ‘All I Want is a Chance to Grow Up,’ will feature a number of events, including a National Church Service, to be held on May 2 at 10:00 a.m. at the First Assembly of God in Ocho Rios, St. Ann; an Action Day on May 21 at 10:00 a.m. at the Institute of Jamaica Junior Centre, Portmore, St. Catherine; and Poster, Essay and Texting Competitions awards ceremony, on May 26, 11:00 a.m. in Kingston.
Patron of Child Month, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Grace Kennedy and Company Limited, Mr. Douglas Orane explained that this year’s theme was chosen because, “tragically, not all children have the opportunity to grow up and achieve their dreams.”
School of Hope Drummers perform during the official launch of Child Month at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston on Friday, April 16.
He said that despite the laws, policy framework and institutions in place to protect the nation’s children, more needs to be done to protect them from violence, accidents and illnesses that hamper their ability to develop and become productive citizens.
Guest speaker at the launch, Executive Director of Jamaicans for Justice, Dr. Carolyn Gomes, suggested that a level playing field be created where “bigger chunks of resources” go to the most vulnerable in the society, particularly children.
“While only 37 per cent of Jamaicans are children, almost one of every two Jamaicans (44.5 per cent) who live in poverty is a child, with children in rural areas being the most affected,” Dr. Gomes said.
She also noted that the poorest 20 per cent of the population consume less than seven per cent of national consumption, which means some children are getting plenty while others are getting next to nothing.
Executive Director of Jamaicans for Justice, Dr. Carolyn Gomes (left) accepting a gift basket from Rollington Town Primary School student, Romario Livingston, following her presentation at the official launch of Child Month at the Institute of Jamaica in downtown Kingston on Friday (April 16). Dr. Gomes was the guest speaker at the event.
Dr. Gomes said that while the country has made impressive strides in terms of access to health, nutrition, education and social welfare, even if all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are met, thousands will still be left out.
“We need to begin to build a Jamaica based on equality, of access to opportunity for every single person,” she said.
Organised by the National Child Month Committee, the activities are being co-sponsored by GraceKennedy and LIME, among others. During the ceremony, LIME’s Corporate Communications Manager, Ms. Camille Taylor, handed over a sponsorship cheque for $1 million to the Committee.
Other activities for the month are: a Parenting Workshop on May 27 at 9:00 a.m. at the Boys Brigade, Camp Road, Kingston; and a Community Service Awards Ceremony on May 28, starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Alhambra Inn, Kingston. Also, extending beyond the Month of May, are a Children’s Forum on October 22 and a Children’s Fun Day on November 19.
Observed annually during the month of May, Child Month allows for special attention to be placed on the nation’s children, and the public made aware of some of the issues affecting them and what can be done to alleviate their problems.