JIS: MORE than 900 youngsters from institutions and organisations islandwide participated in the third annual National Children's Summit, which was held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday.

 

The event, which brings together children aged 12 to 18 for discussions on issues relating to their personal development, as well as matters of national and global interest, was held under the theme 'Children... Securing a Brighter Future Today for Tomorrow'.

 

Among the attendees were children in State-run facilities and Child Ambassadors from the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR), the Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA), the Children's Advisory Group, and the National Centre for Youth Development.

 

The activities included sessions focusing on managing the transition from State care, child self-defence, personal development, growth and values and career development options, as well as special recognition and motivation session for children who sat the Grade Six Achievement Test and Grade Nine Achievement Test on transitioning from primary to secondary school.

 

Other activities included a vocational and technical skills programme, play and art therapy, musical expression, robotics, and a 'spa oasis' facilitated by the HEART Trust/NTA to provide beauty treatment services and demonstrations for the children.

 

Additionally, there were exhibitions by a number of national agencies, including the CDA's Mobile Mental Health Unit, the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, the OCR, the HEART Trust/NTA, the National Council on Drug Abuse, and the Ministry of Transport and Mining's Road Safety Unit.

 

In her remarks at the opening ceremony, CDA Chief Executive Officer Rosalee Gage-Grey encouraged the children to take advantage of the opportunity that the summit presented for them to learn about their rights and the roles of the various child-protection agencies, form new friendships, and immerse themselves in the day's activities.

 

“As a child-protection agency, we fully embrace child participation. What you are seeing here today is a reflection of the stance that we believe that children's voices should be heard,” she said.

 

The CEO added: “This is how we are creating a brighter future for our children. In creating a brighter future, we look at every element that concerns children — health, environment, education, recreation and social needs. We ensure that our children have a balanced diet; there is continuous assessment of their living conditions to see how we can beautify and make our homes more comfortable and environmentally friendly for our children, to ensure that their pride and dignity are maintained.”

 

She concluded by encouraging the children to utilise the resources of the agency.

 

“The CDA is here to serve you. Do not be afraid to reach out to us. We want the best for you so you can share your success story to the world. We truly believe that every child saved is a nation saved,” Gage-Grey asserted.

 

CAPTION: Chief executive officer (CEO) of Youth Organisation for Upliftment - Jamaica Aubrey Stewart (left); incoming chairman of the Child Development Agency (CDA) Children's Advisory Panel (CAP) Matthew McHayle (second left); CEO of the CDA Rosalee Gage-Grey; and deputy chairman of CDA's CAP Malik Gayle, pictured during the National Children's Summit on Wednesday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston. (Photo: JIS)