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As Jamaica gears up to observe Child Month in May, all activities will focus on the theme: ‘Our Children: Today’s Investment – Tomorrow’s Gain’.
Chairman of the National Child Month Committee (NCMC), Dr. Pauline Mullings, said that this year’s theme was carefully selected to remind parents, teachers, church leaders, caregivers, and all adults of the importance of investing in the nation’s children.
“On hearing the word investment, it is easy to think of money, but the word invest used in our theme suggests time, devotion, provision, and empowerment,” she said at the official launch of the Child Month 2008 held at the Institute of Jamaica on East Street in Kingston on April 8.
The Chairman said that all Jamaicans have a part to play in the process, and urged the business sector to continue its support of the nation’s children by increasing the number of scholarships offered to students at all levels.
She also appealed for a resumption of the apprenticeship programme as a way to open doors to inexperienced school leavers. “All we are hearing these days is that there are no jobs because these young people have no experience. If we can go back to the apprenticeship system, then our inexperienced school leavers will be gainfully employed,” Dr. Mullings argued.
Parents and caregivers, she also stressed, should invest and love their children. “Talk to them, strengthen their weaknesses, encourage their strengths, include them in decisions that affect them. Most of all listen to your children and support their endeavours,” she urged.
Dr. Mullings also made a special appeal to teachers. “Try to see each child as an individual. see the potential that children have. Also, include values and attitudes as hidden curriculum or soft skills and give opportunities for growth and development,” she posited.
The NCMC includes representatives of government and non-government institutions working in the interest of the children of Jamaica. The Committee’s mission is to use the month of May, recognized nationwide as Child Month, to educate the public about the needs of children and articulate what each person can do to help.
Activities to observe the month got underway from as early as February with the launch of poster and essay competitions, the latter of which now has an oral component. The deadline for entries is April 18 and all submissions are to be sent to Sandrea Long-White, Vice Chair of the National Child Month Committee, c/o Rural Services for Children with Disabilities, 191 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 8. For further information, persons are invited to contact the NCMC at 931- 4584 or 941- 6950.
Other activities include a church service on May 4 at the May Pen Methodist Church in Clarendon; Action Day, which is the equivalent of Labour Day for children on May 16; and the NCMC essay and poster competition awards ceremony on May 30. A national fun day for children in care will also be held on a date to be announced.
Other events will be held throughout the year including the community service awards on September 26; the annual treat on November 20; and a youth forum on November 28.