The Jamaica Conference Centre will come alive on Tuesday August 25 with the second staging of the Child Development Agency’s National Children’s Summit.
The event which will see over 700 children from across the island converging to discuss issues of national concern is being spearheaded by the Agency’s Children’s Advisory Panel (CAP), under the theme, Creating Opportunities to Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.
Chairperson for CAP, Meca-Gaye Francis, explained that the Summit which is the brainchild of the Panel will provide a platform for children to express their views and relate to each other on matters affecting them, especially those who are in child-care institutions.
“The Panel saw the need to stage such an important event where a wide-cross section of children from across the island and come together to give their views on the issues affecting them, in the presence of their leaders. We felt that children across Jamaica, mainly those in State care needed an opportunity to interact with policy makers and stakeholders in a child-friendly environment,” the CAP Chairperson said.
She said that the Summit will seek to achieve a number of specific outcomes, in particular, a document outlining recommendations for improving the quality of service offered to children in Jamaica by both government, private sector and non-profit organizations.
Miss Francis said in addition to the Panel who will be actively involved in the Summit, there will also be various youth organizations, church groups; child ambassadors from the Offices of the Children’s Registry and Advocate; as well as representatives from the Abilities Foundation; Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities; and the Department of Correctional Services.
“Members of the Panel will be chairing some of the sessions throughout the day because the CDA strongly believes in child participation, and as such, aims to involve children in the decision-making. Children today now have a voice, which is indeed a privilege because we are not only seen, but also heard,” she said.
Relating to last year’s staging, which was deemed a success, she said that this year’s Summit promises to be even greater with a number of interactive discussions, entertainment and other activities to engage the children.
“The day’s event will be exciting, mainly because the children will definitely have fun while interacting with the leaders about decisions that are likely to impact them. From the sessions, we hope that the recommendations made will be put into action in the best interest of the children,” Miss Francis said.
Giving details of the Summit, CDA’s Corporate Planner Cyleena Gray said that the day’s proceeding will commence with an opening ceremony, followed by a number of interactive workshops and sessions which will be chaired by CAP members, and other delegates.
She also said that the workshop sessions will be very thematic, and will focus on areas such as understanding the phenomena of bullying in Jamaica; child rights and responsibilities; personal development and values; responding to the issue of violence against children; transitioning from care and what it means for you; and face to face with your leaders;
“Our aim is to give the child delegates an appropriate medium to interact with leaders in government and the heads of child-centred organisations,” the CDA’s Corporate Planner said.
She revealed that CDA along with its partners conducted an islandwide survey on bullying, and will be sharing the findings of the results during the session intended to address the issue.
“Bullying continues to affect some of the nation’s children, and so we want to use this opportunity to hear the views of the children in care on the matter. We also want to get some practical solutions on how to better address this ongoing issue, so we believe that interacting with the children themselves will help us to address the concern more effectively,” Miss Gray said.
The interactive features of the Summit will include a spa oasis which will be facilitated by HEART Trust/NTA to provide beauty services and demonstrations to the children; technology and you; a journey in the world of robotics; exploring the musical you; and a play therapy area.
Meanwhile, CEO of CDA, Rosalee Gage-Grey congratulated the Panel on the second staging of the National Children’s Summit.
“We encourage our children to use this Summit to empower themselves through the information provided, and also as an opportunity to hone their leadership skills and develop a larger vision for their future. It is crucial that they come together in a forum like this to interact with their peers and discuss and flesh out matters of national relevance,” the CEO stated.
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