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Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will implement its National School Feeding Policy during the 2016/17 academic year.
  • In her remarks, Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Judith Leiba-Thomas, stressed the importance of fostering sound mental health in children, while discouraging the stigmatization of persons deemed mental ill.
  • The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) is among this year’s public and private sector sponsors, partnering with the National Child Month Committee.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will implement its National School Feeding Policy during the 2016/17 academic year.

State Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, says the policy is part of the Government’s undertaking to ensure that children attending school are provided with the appropriate nutrition that will “improve (their) educational outcomes.”

He was speaking at the media launch for Child Month at GraceKennedy Limited’s corporate office, in downtown Kingston, on April 13.

The Ministry currently provides breakfast and lunch for approximately 137,000 children attending early childhood institutions, which represents 70 per cent of that cohort.

Additionally, lunch is provided for 202,000 children, aged nine to 13, who are on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

Meanwhile, Mr. Green said the Ministry will be partnering with several entities to undertake activities commemorating Child Month during May.

This, he said, is to ensure that these engagements target the critical areas of education, health, protection and parenting.

The activities include a media campaign to be rolled out in collaboration with telecommunications company, Digicel, under the theme: ‘Our Children’.

“Our mission is to change the (society’s mindset) from being ‘my child’ or ‘your child’, to ‘our child’. We have to drive home the message that each of us has a role to play in ensuring that (every) Jamaican child is developed to their maximum potential,” he noted.

In her remarks, Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Judith Leiba-Thomas, stressed the importance of fostering sound mental health in children, while discouraging the stigmatization of persons deemed mental ill.

“Mental illness should be (treated) like any other illness where we can (provide) help (for affected persons). Studies have shown that, sometimes, 10 years (elapse) between symptoms and diagnoses, because persons feel ashamed (to disclose their condition) and do not get the proper help,” she said.

For her part, Chairperson of the National Child Month Committee, Dr. Pauline Mullings, said this year’s theme, ‘Healthy Children Build a Stronger Nation’, was selected based on “the rising increase in the degenerating and mental health diseases being found in our children .”

“Through the theme, we hope to reach each individual who interacts with and shares in the lives of our children. Children should be taught from early, the value of health so that they can grow up to both practice and appreciate healthy lifestyle strategies,” she said.

Dr. Mullings also announced that with the help of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the Committee will go to five locations for this year’s observance of National Children’s Day, on Friday, May 20.

Child Month activities will start on Sunday, May 1, with a National Church Service at the Emmanuel Apostolic Church in Portmore, St. Catherine.

Other activities include: an International Safeguarding Children Conference at the Mona Visitors Lodge, University of the West Indies (UWI), from May 5 to 6; and a Children’s Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday, May 28, at Wolmer’s Boys School.

The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) is among this year’s public and private sector sponsors, partnering with the National Child Month Committee.