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A number of activities have been planned to celebrate the island’s children during national Child Month, which will be observed in May.

The month, which will be observed under the theme: ‘Children’s Care and Protection: A Fi Wi Mission’ was officially launched on April 17, at the GraceKennedy offices in downtown Kingston.

In her address at the launch, Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said the activities, which will extend into November, will seek to mobilise national support for the care and protection of children.

She noted that while May is reserved for Child Month, the growth and development of children should be a constant focus.

“The mission that we should all be on is the future protection of them so that the country can grow and build into leaps and bounds. Children are responsible for taking us to the pinnacles of our success and for keeping Jamaica’s name riding high,” she stated.

Chairperson of the National Child Month Committee (NCMC), which is organising the celebrations, Dr. Pauline Mullings, said the theme was selected to increase awareness among persons, who interact with and share in the lives of children, that they are duty bound to safeguard their welfare.

“It is so sad to acknowledge that, in many cases, our children have been abused physically, sexually and emotionally by those who they trust. Many have been neglected, deemed unwanted, lacking in love and consequently, hope,” she noted.

Dr. Mullings is encouraging Jamaicans to support all the activities planned for the month and identify a project that can make a difference in the life of a child.

“I believe that this mission can only be accomplished if we all come together, unite our hearts and our efforts, and make our voices be heard, as we aim to overcome the many challenges that face our children today,” she stated.

In her remarks, Opposition Spokesperson, Youth, Sports, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Culture, Olivia Grange, stated that during Child Month “we need to reflect on what is good about childhood in Jamaica and work to change what is not”.

Child Month 2013 gets underway on May 5, with a National Church Service at the Faith Chapel, 1 Renfield Avenue in Kingston.

May 10 is National Children’s Action Day, where children will be encouraged to do something for their communities through schools, clubs and church groups; while National Children's Day will be observed on May 17.

Activities continue in June with the popular poster and essay competitions and awards ceremony.

Several events are also slated for the month of November, including a youth forum at the St. Andrew Parish Church Hall on November 1; Youth Outstanding Academic Achievement Awards at the Alhambra Inn, St. Andrew on November 15; and International Day for Children on November 20.

Child Month was first celebrated in May, 1953, under the patronage of Lady Foote, wife of the then Governor.

The major objectives of the NCMC are: to heighten public awareness of the many issues and challenges  negatively affecting the development of children and steps that can be taken to address some of the issues and effectively meet the challenges; and to mobilise resources and facilitate action to support children-focused programmes.

Main sponsors of the month are: GraceKennedy Limited; Lime; Continental Baking Company Limited; the Gleaner Company Limited and Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies.

By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter