SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport and UNICEF the Netherlands celebrate a key milestone in their partnership: 52 facilitators have been trained on positive parenting.
The training is part of the new Positive Parenting Support Program (PPSP). A parenting program tailor-made for Sint Maarten has been a long-term goal and initiative led by the Department of Youth (MECYS) and implemented with technical support from UNICEF the Netherlands (UNICEF NL)
The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport, the Honorable drs. Rodolphe E. Samuel: “commended the new Facilitators for their hard work, and the Department of Youth and UNICEF the Netherlands for continuing to strengthen the capacity of professionals working with children and their families.”
This training program and the overall positive parenting support program represent a significant investment in strengthening Sint Maarten's family support systems and the island's achievement of its sustainable development goals,” states Dr. Henry Charles, Senior Programme Specialist, UNICEF NL.
Over the past four months, educators, social workers, policymakers, and child protection professionals, have attended the PPSP training to become certified PPSP Facilitators. The PPSP Facilitators will assist in providing positive parenting support classes to the wider community.
“When parents come to us for support, they are dealing with a lot – so much that advice or a referral might not be enough to change their attitude or behaviour. The Positive Parenting Support Program teaches us creative ways to engage parents,” shares Social Worker Tjashana Honore who received her certificate along with the other 51 new PPSP Facilitators.
The curriculum for the PPSP was developed through extensive research and data collected from dozens of focus group discussions and stakeholder interviews by a collaborative team from The University of the West Indies Open Campus, through the Caribbean Child Development Centre (CCDC), in partnership with Parenting Partners Caribbean (PPC). Research emphasized the needs of the St. Maarten community and its multicultural society.
Ceceile Minott and Linda Craigie-Brown are part of the large team of experts who contributed to the development of the PPSP. Parents, children, and youth were consulted in the research phase of the development of the PPSP. Interestingly, all parties voiced many of the same concerns.
Some of their shared opinions included: not having sufficient activities for children and youth, not having access to information about parenting, and wanting to have a more open and trusting relationship with their family. Minott: “In addition, finances remain a worry of families in Sint Maarten. Parents are unsure how to balance the high cost of living, working multiple jobs, and still having time for their children.”
However, the PPSP principles affirm that it is not about the quantity of time a parent spends with their children; but the quality. “A parent can be home all day with their child but have made no effort to connect or support them. On the other hand, a parent can also spend an hour with their child and actively build their relationship with them,” explains Craigie-Brown. The classes will teach parents positive approaches to communicating, disciplining, and building a better connection with their children.
Positive parenting, or just parenting, has many different descriptions embodying the meaning and responsibilities of a parent. But what it comes down to, according to the experts, is encouraging the parent to see and positively treat their children. “Words stick, hurt, describe and prescribe. If we tell a child that they are worthless and good for nothing – this is what they will believe and act accordingly,” conclude Minott & Craigie-Brown.
As the next step, twenty PPSP Facilitators have been selected to continue their training and become 'Master Trainers'. Master Trainers can train others to become PPSP Facilitators, ensuring the continuity and accessibility of parenting sessions on Sint Maarten.
Providing more accessible parenting classes also plays a large part in protecting children: “This is why developing this Positive Parenting Support Program has been a priority for the Department of Youth and our Ministry. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who spent their time and efforts attending the classes and getting certified. Through your knowledge and commitment, we can provide more accessible parenting classes to our community,” expressed Soraya Agard-Lake, Head of the Department of Youth.
The PPSP is part of the Child Resilience and Protection Project (CRPP), financed by the Government of The Netherlands, through the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, administered by the World Bank. Updates on this project can be followed on www.facebook.com/departmentofyouthsxm & www.facebook.com/unicefsxm
One of the four groups that completed the PPSP Facilitator Training. Those trained included social workers, educators, policymakers, and child protection professionals.
Participants were in high spirits during the certification ceremony, and a few were able to share their experiences on what they learned during the PPSP training.