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Story Highlights

  • Five (5) members of the Children Advisory Panel (CAP) paid a courtesy call on the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) representative to Jamaica, Mark Connolly.
  • Mr. Connolly said UNICEF was not only happy to provide financially support towards the work of the Panel, but also to create avenues for the group’s cause to be highlighted.

A wide range of issues, including children in state care and matters pertaining to young people were discussed on Friday (March 14) when members of the Children Advisory Panel (CAP) paid a courtesy call on the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) representative to Jamaica, Mark Connolly.

CAP, a child participation programme of the Child Development Agency (CDA) was established in June 2012, to provide child-friendly guidance to the Chief Executive Officer and executive management team of the CDA on various issues affecting children

Campion College student and Chairperson of CAP, Charles Young, accompanied by five members of the Panel attended the courtesy call at the UNICEF offices on Knutsford Boulevard in Kingston.

Also, in attendance were Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Janet Cupidon-Quallo; Director, Policy Planning and Evaluation, CDA, Newton Douglas; Children  Officer, CDA, Tahecia Salmon; Public Relations Officer, CDA, Jeneva Gordon; and Secretary, Policy Planning and Evaluation at the CDA, Jodian Givons.

The UNICEF representative lauded the CAP members for their involvement in children’s issues and programmes for the development.

“I thought this was a great example of young people not only expressing their views but actually sharing their thoughts, their plans and how very involved they are in the development agenda and government policies and programmes,” Mr. Connolly told JIS News.

He said that he was encouraged by the views expressed by the group, especially about children in state care and the difficulties they face when it is time for them to leave the system.

“They are talking to those kids and raised issues about how hard it is for them to leave those places. I think they are fantastic mentors to help those kids make that transition easier and rewarding,” he added.

Mr. Connolly said UNICEF was not only happy to provide financially support towards the work of the Panel, but also to create avenues for the group’s cause to be highlighted.

“Much more importantly we have helped create a space, along with the Ministry of Youth and Culture so that the young people on this panel are taken seriously and be involved in decision making processes. So, actually for us, it is less the financial support and more being a part of a team that creates the opportunities so that these kids can make a difference,” he said.

The Panel members, whose two-year tenure end in August 2014, are drawn from a wide cross-section of schools.

Members of the Panel who attended the courtesy call were Rushay Ximines, Meadowbrook High School, Kingston; Shemar Millwood, Jamaica College, Kingston; Meca-Gaye Francis, Campion College, Kingston; Kinshasia Johnson, Merl Grove High School, Kingston and Suzecka Swaby, Glenmuir High School, MayPen, Clarendon.