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Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says the Ministry and its various agencies are committed to empowering the nation’s children and providing them with a space where they can speak out about the issues affecting them.

“We want children to speak out. That is really our mission and our purpose. Every child has a right, every child has a voice and we want our children to become more involved in their own development and in their own space,” she stated.

Minister Hanna was speaking at the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) Child Participation Programmes awards ceremony, held on February 8 at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.

She noted that the child participation programmes form part of the Ministry’s mission towards getting children more involved in nation building, particularly in matters that directly or indirectly concern them.

Ms. Hanna said the Ministry is also encouraging more dialogue between parents and their children.

“The other thing that we are encouraging is for adults to learn from their children, because it’s not only important for you to pay attention to their day-to-day needs and responsibilities, but also to sit with them… and learn from them,” she stated.

During the function, presentations were made to the two winners of the ORC’s Jingle Competition held last year to mark the agency’s 5th anniversary. Children were required to send in a jingle that included a message about reporting child abuse to the OCR as well as the toll free number (1-888-PROTECT).

The winners are 12-year-old Trae Gibbs of Wolmer’s High School for Boys, who won in the 10-13 age category; and 16-year-old Kingston College student, Jerome Bennett, who won in the 14-17 age group category.

They both received a weekend for four at an all-inclusive resort, blackberry smart phones, trophies, and book vouchers.

Additionally, six youths, one from each region, were selected by the OCR to serve as Child Ambassadors. They are: St. Andrew High School student, Ashlie Barrett, for region one; Marymount High School student, Robyn Boyd, region two; Westwood High School student, Saran Wilson, region three; Maud McLeod High School student, Moesha Allen, region four; Hampton High School student, Deandra Goss, region five; and Glenmuir High School student, Tasheka Nevers, for region six.

Three students were also selected as Associate Child Ambassadors – : Francesco Wilkie from the Pembrook Hall High School for region one; Brandon Blythe from Petersville All-Age school, region four; and Xaundre Mohansingh from Glenmuir High school for region six.

The OCR Child Ambassadors, who were selected from a field of 60 students, are expected to carry out a number of activities aimed at increasing awareness about the OCR, child abuse and reporting such cases.

These activities include: sharing information with family and friends; making presentations and representations on behalf of the OCR; participating in media interviews and relevant OCR public education and planning activities.