“It was a wonderful experience sitting in the same room with the people who helped me when I was growing up, and watch them helping other children in need.” This was the sentiment of 18-year-old Janine Henry who grew up in State care, as she thanked the Child Development Agency’s (CDA) management and staff for the work experience in the Agency’s Summer Work Programme.
Twenty-five youngsters got the opportunity to earn over the holidays, thanks to the programme introduced by the Agency to assist children drawn from its young advisory group —the Children’s Advisory Panel (CAP); its foster care programme, and residential child care facilities. A number of University of Technology Practicum students also participated in the programmme.
The children were employed in a range of areas including in Accounting; Policy Planning and Evaluation; the Executive Office; Human Resource Development, and the Agency’s regional offices across the island, where they gained first-hand experience interacting with children and families who access the Agency’s services.
Ms. Henry, a CDA CAP member and a second-year student at the Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College in St. James, was based in the Agency’s Western Regional Office. “It was a humbling and rewarding experience to witness and play even a small part in helping children,” she said.
Speaking at an appreciation function for the youngsters, Acting CEO of the CDA, Rosalee Gage-Grey said the decision was taken to employ the children for the summer to enable them to earn an income while gaining valuable work experience.
“The Agency’s management felt that it would be a good idea to engage the children for the summer to teach them about the value of work and allow them to learn skills that will serve them well in the future,” she said.
Encouraging the children to be role models for their peers, the Acting CEO urged the children, as they head back to school, to share all they had learnt on the job with others.
Expressing thanks on behalf of the CAP chairman, Charles Young, Secretary Meca-Gay Francis said the group enjoyed the experiences, and learnt important skills that will help them in their future endeavours. She added that they were looking forward to participating in the programme next year.
In her comments, another youngster Alexi Augusta who was based in the Trelawny office, said before coming to the CDA, she was not aware of the amount of work that the social workers at the Agency had to do. “I did not know there was so much work; officers have their various caseloads and they are always on the go,” she said, thanking the agency for the opportunity.
Judene Thompson, a University of Technology Practicum student also extended thanks to the organisation for the experience, noting that she learnt a lot, including from the children she had the opportunity to help counsel.
Miss Thompson also encouraged the younger summer workers to continue to do their best. “ I want to express appreciation to the CDA for the opportunity to work and earn for the summer,” said CAP member Kinshasa Johnson.
Contact: Prudence N. Barnes
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