A team from the Child Development Agency (CDA) yesterday (April 16) conducted a walkthrough of the community of Havannah Heights in Clarendon to educate and sensitise the residents on issues surrounding the care and protection of the nation’s children.
The team which was led by CEO of the CDA Mrs. Rosalee Gage-Grey and included Regional Director Valerie Muhammad, Team Leader from Clarendon Francine Rhoomes and members of the CDA’s Southern Regional Office, Clarendon Parish Office, and from the Agency’s Kingston Office. They were joined on the walk by members of the Havannah Heights Police Youth Club, including leader Constable Melissa Burrell of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
The tour of the community was conducted ahead of the Circle of Care Family and Community Series meeting held at the St. Gabriel Anglican Church Hall in May Pen yesterday (April 16).
However, the Havannah Heights walk got off to a later start, as the CDA team took the time to visit with students at two of the schools in the parish which were attended by two of the three youngsters brutally slain by gunmen the night before.
CEO Rosalee Gage-grey expressed anger and sadness at the heartless attack on Alex Turner (16); Ricardo Brisco (14) and Raymond Givans (14) and 35-year-old Marquis Hamilton who were killed in the Monymusk community the night before.
“We have hit a new low as a society; the perpetrators of such a horrific assault on our children have shown that they have no heart and no respect for life,” Mrs. Gage-Grey stated. She expressed condolence to family members and schoolmates of the persons slain.
Giving information on the visits to the schools, she said the team, interacted with, counselled and comforted the children most affected by the tragedy and gave words of encouragement to classmates of Alex Turner who attended Central High.
The team later visited Vere Technical High where Raymond Givans attended.
“I was pleased to see that counselors from the Ministry of Education were early on the scene, engaging the children in grief counseling and exercises to help them express their feelings and get through the tragedy,” Mrs. Gage-Grey said. A CDA team is also to visit Garvey Maceo.
Turning to the tour of the community of Havannah Heights, Mrs. Gage-Grey noted that she and the members of her team were very concerned that they came across a number of children who were of school age, but not attending school. “In one instance, we saw a boy who was 12 years old, but who had never attended school,” she said, urging members of the community to report violations such as this to the Office of the Children’s Registry whenever they witnessed it.
Mrs. Gage-Grey also revealed that children as young as five were seen going to the shop by themselves, disclosing that warnings were given to several parents.
She explained that members of the CDA parish team are to follow up with the affected children and work with the community to be more vigilant.
Constable Melissa Burrell Leader of the Havannah Heights Police Youth Club said that the club welcomed the walkthrough by members of the CDA team.
“A number of children in this community are in need of care and protection, some are not attending school due to economic reasons and some are not registered,” the Constable said.
She expressed the hope that from the CDA visit, more residents would learn how to better care for their children, noting that she wished to see more partnerships among stakeholders including from the private sector for the betterment of children and youth in the community.
Contact: CDA PR Unit