Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GraceKennedy Limited, Don Wehby, says parenting should be elevated on the national agenda, and the National Parenting Policy should be used in that endeavour.
“The policy advocates giving parents the support they need, while ensuring that they are aware of what their responsibilities are under the law, and also the consequences for being delinquent in their responsibilities to their children,” Mr. Wehby said.
He was speaking at the Children of Jamaica Outreach, Inc (COJO) scholarship luncheon, held on May 22 at the Pegasus Hotel, in New Kingston.
The National Parenting Policy was tabled in the House of Representatives in March 2011. The vision of the policy is for all parents in Jamaica, whether by virtue of having given birth, adopting or serving as guardians, to recognise, accept, and discharge their duty to ensure that the rights of children are always upheld; that the best interests of children are always promoted; and that their children are always loved and provided with opportunities and resources to achieve their full potential and ultimate fulfilment, within safe, caring and nurturing environments.
Mr. Wehby noted that the Jamaican reality is that single parents, mainly females, are the heads of households in the country.
“Where are the fathers? There are so many children who never have the love, the care of a father and this is something that affects them at every stage of their lives for as long as they live. We need our fathers to step up and be real men, to love, protect and be there for your children. Even when funds are limited, your love and presence is more important than anything else,” the Group CEO said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wehby congratulated the three young persons who received scholarships valued at US$3,000 each, to attend a tertiary institution, from COJO.
“You have proven that excellence can be achieved despite challenges. You are a shining example of the future we want for our children. With more like you, we know our country will be in good hands,” he stated.
In her comments, Chief Executive Officer of the Child Development Agency (CDA), Carla Francis Edie, said the scholarships provided by COJO are a demonstration of their commitment to the development of the children and youth of Jamaica.
She congratulated COJO for its commitment to national development and specifically in caring for children who are wards of the state.
“Each year the CDA spends many millions of dollars to support children in care from very tight budgetary allocations. We have always tried to assist some of our former wards who are seeking to further their studies, but who are struggling. We are always keen to assist, but resources are a challenge. That is why we welcome the partnership from COJO in this area of critical need,” Mrs. Francis Edie said.
For his part, Chairman and Founder of COJO, Gary Williams, noted that focus is placed on children in state homes, because “the children who are wards of the state need a voice."
“That is the reason why we focus on children that are in institutions. They have potential and I think that as long as you give them love, we ought to take the time to go back and visit and give a hand. We are very happy to be here to give you guys encouragement to do well and we know you will,” Mr. Williams said.
In his response on behalf of the awardees, Rasheid Powell thanked COJO for the scholarships. The other awardees are Samantha Mitchell and Frederick Gordon. They were also presented with a Dell laptop each.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter