It was a time when children explored their creativity; learned life skills and good values, while making new friends. This was the experience of the children who participated in the Child Development Agency’s (CDA) Children and Family Support Unit (CFSU) three-week summer camp staged at its 40 Duke Street location in Kingston recently.
Head of the CFSU for the South East Region Jean Duhaney said that the camp which was held under the theme, Give a child wings to fly, targeted some 115 clients mainly from the inner-city, whose family came through the Agency’s intake desk for counseling and other forms of intervention.
“The summer camp was a way to further engage our clients and to keep them occupied during this long summer break. It is often said that the ‘devil finds work for idle hands’ and so we felt that it was important to get the children involved in positive activities for the summer and in so doing support their families in caring for them during the break,” Mrs. Duhaney noted.
The CFSU was established in CDA’s South East Region (covering Kingston and St. Andrew; St. Catherine and St. Thomas) and in western Jamaica (covering St. James, Trelawny, Westmoreland and Hanover) to support families while diverting children from State care.
CDA’s Children and Family Support Unit aims to assist vulnerable families to work through their challenges to reduce the incidence of children being taken into State care for behavioural issues and other non serious offences. The Unit provides counseling intervention for both parents and children; economic support through partnerships with agencies such as the poor relief department, PATH and others, and facilitates career guidance and skills training for both parents and children.
The curriculum for the summer camp included academic subjects such as mathematics and English; sign language; art and craft; performing arts, grooming and healthy lifestyle topics such as drug abuse and healthy sexual behaviour.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Acting CEO Rosalee Gage-Grey congratulated the parents for allowing their children to participate in the camp, adding that the Agency saw them (parents) as valuable partners in the child protection effort.
Urging the children to stay in school, Mrs. Gage-Grey said: “listen to your parents and do your best in school. There is a great big world out there waiting for you and if you continue to do your best you can soar, because the sky is the limit.”
The Acting CEO also congratulated the CFSU team for a job well done.
Regional Director for the South East Region Robert Williams charged the children to be leaders rather than followers, to be respectful and to make the right choices.“Many times you get into trouble because you are a follower, and you follow persons going down the wrong path. Be a leader! If you know the right thing to do, do it even if everybody is doing the wrong thing and even if doing the right makes you unpopular” Mr. Williams stated.
Fifteen-year-old Rick McGowan said the summer camp was a wonderful experience. “It was good to socialize with persons who attend other schools and who came from different backgrounds. I enjoyed the way the programme was put together, everybody was treated with respect and dealt with equally by the CDA staff,” he said.
Noting that the summer camp was a “wonderful platform for inner city children to show their talents,” he suggested that the camp be held annually.
Joined by Director of Children and Family Programmes Audrey Budhi, Mrs. Gage-Grey presented a gift basket to the CFSU head Jean Duhaney.
Certificates were presented to 17 young persons who volunteered for the summer camp by Ms. Budhi; Regional Director for the Western Region Eunice Scott-Shaw and Mrs. Gage-Grey. Agency representatives also presented packages of school supplies to the children.
The closing ceremony was capped off with a fashion show by the children, following which CDA officials were invited to view the art and craft items made by the children.
Contact: Prudence N. Barnes