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Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, has called on Jamaicans to begin to practise proper waste disposal in order to ensure a safer environment for the nation’s children.
“It is time for us to get a little more advanced and even to start separating our disposables and our waste as we seek to reuse, recycle and reduce,” she stated, as she addressed the launch of Child Month 2009 on April 7 at the Institute of Jamaica on East Street, Kingston, under the theme: ‘Preserve the Environment: Protect our Children.’
According to Mrs. Clarke, there is scant regard for the harmful manner in which many people are disposing of waste, and the consequent pollution of the environment in which children live, noting that the Millennium Development Goals and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, places emphasis on the preservation of the physical environment for the survival, development and protection of children.
She made an impassioned plea for the relevant authorities to facilitate the process of proper garbage disposal, by not only creating areas for dumping, but also educating the nation on how to do so in an environmentally safe manner.
Citing the report titled: ‘Acute Lead Poisoning Associated with Backyard Lead Smelting in Jamaica,’ which was published in the 2006 edition of the West Indian Medical Journal, Mrs. Clarke emphasised that more has to be done to reduce the exposure of children to lead, noting that the improper disposal of batteries is a contributory factor.
“You need to tell people to dispose their batteries properly, cell phones, computers, but is there somewhere where we can dispose of these and have the authorities collect them?” she asked. “We need to tell persons where we have these provisions and where to dispose of these things safely,” she pointed out.

Students of the Seaview Gardens Basic School perform ‘Celebrate the Differences’ at Tuesday’s (April 7) launch of National Child Month 2009 at the Institute of Jamaica,10-16 East Street, Kingston.

Mrs. Clarke also urged local entertainers to play their part in creating a safe social environment, by using their talent to “mold young lives” and to help to prevent the “sowing of social toxins in the minds of the children”.
She further commended the Broadcasting Commission for the firm stance taken against “pollution of the children through music”.
Chair of the National Child Month Committee, Dr. Pauline Mullings, explained that the focus on the environment this year is to draw national attention to the fact that the social and physical surroundings in which the nation’s children exist is rapidly deteriorating. “We are losing our trees and we need to educate everyone that if we continue to lose these we will not have a place to live,” she said.
“We want to get to the place where we can get everyone to recognise that if we don’t manage this (environment) well, our children will be unprotected and our aim is to protect our children for the future,” she added.
To assist the National Child Month Committee in achieving this goal, Vice President of Corporate Communications, LIME, Errol Miller, presented Dr. Mullings with a cheque valued at $1 million.
Child Month 2009 will kick off on May 3 with a National Church Service at the Bethel Baptist Church in Kingston. Other activities, some of which will extend beyond May, include National Action Day at the Denham Town Primary School in Kingston on May 15; Poster and Essay Competition Award Ceremony at Alhambra Inn in Kingston on May 29; Community Service Awards Ceremony on September 25 also at Alhambra Inn; Universal Children’s Day on November 20 at a venue to be announced; and the National Youth Forum on November 27 at St. Andrew Parish Church.
National Child Month was officially launched by Global Brand Manager of GraceKennedy Foods, Anthony Lawrence, who represented Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Limited, Douglas Orane, who is the patron for Child Month.

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