Using chalks of various colours, shapes and sizes, foster care families and staff members of the Child Development Agency (CDA) and Juici Patties transformed sidewalks and parking lots at selected locations with murals displaying colourful messages observing National Foster Care Recognition Week, February 6 -12.
The Juici Patties-sponsored event, dubbed “Chalk Talk”, drew the attention of curious onlookers, who stopped to watch the foster children and parents showcase their artistic skills, portraying the theme of the week’s activities and slogan for the National Foster Care Programme, “Open Your Heart, Share your Home”.
Executive Director of the CDA, Alison Mclean, speaking with JIS News , noted that children require love, care and nurturing, and encouraged persons to join in changing the lives of less fortunate Jamaican children in need of familial care and support.
Executive Director of the Child Development Agency (CDA), Alison Mclean (left), joined these children, who are part of the CDA’s National Foster Care Programme, in creating murals depicting messages of love and the importance of foster care, as they participated in ‘Chalk Talk’ in observance of National Foster Care Recognition Week, (February 6-12). The team was at the Duhaney Park branch of Juici Patties.
Since 2005, the CDA has been staging a week of activities to recognise the sacrifice of Jamaicans who have opened their hearts and homes to vulnerable children in the society.
“We believe that this encapsulates the philosophy, as well as the practice of foster care, because it’s all about what you feel from the heart and what you are able to provide for children – such as love, nurturing and care,” she expanded.
She said family symbolises relationships with caring adults and children, and that a one-to-one relationship with caring parents is what brings out the best in children.
“Research has proven that a family environment is the best place for children to grow. Our job is really to provide children who are in our care with the best place (to live),” Mrs. Mclean added.
Lauding the benefits of foster care for children placed in the care and protection of the state, she pointed to research showing that those in foster care performed better, academically.
“They are the ones who are performing best in education, with some even moving on to higher education. Several of them are pursuing tertiary education and those who are or have been in leadership positions in their schools,” she proudly infromed.
“Chalk Talk”, Mrs. Mclean told JIS News, was chosen as the main activity because it was thought to be an appropriate means of engaging the children, while appealing to the curiosity and emotions of the public.
“We try to use an activity that everyone can be involved in. Children love to draw and children love to express themselves through art, and so we wanted to use this medium,” she explained
“Chalk Talk” was held across the four CDA Regions. In the South East, Sidewalk murals were created at the Duhaney Park, Molynes Road and Bog Walk Juici Patties locations. In the South, foster families and CDA representatives journeyed to the Clarendon Park branch of Juici Patties and the CDA office in Skyview Mall, St. Elizabeth, to promote the benefits of foster care.
Persons from the North East, which comprise Portland, St. Mary and St. Ann, created murals at selected locations in Port Antonio and at the Bethel Basic School in Windsor Heights, St. Ann. In the Western Region, foster families and CDA representatives from St. James, Trelawny, Westmoreland and Hanover went to the CDA Office parking lot in Trelawny.
The week of activities began Saturday, February 6, with a Service of Thanksgiving at the North Street Seventhday Adventist Church, Kingston. Foster Care Recruitment Drives, community presentations, exhibitions on foster care and a poetry competition for foster children also formed some of the parish activities.