PHILIPSBURG–Internationally-observed and United Nations-recognised International Day of the Rights of the Child, November 20, was celebrated locally with an Opening Ceremony in the morning and Movie Night in the evening at Belair Community Centre and a first-ever Parade and Youth Rally through Philipsburg.
Newly sworn in Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs Silveria Jacobs said she re-joined the Ministry “with great joy” on such a day when she could stress “from this perspective, how important it is to focus on our children, their rights to love and a loving family, education, health, safety, a name, a nationality and so much more.”
She stressed that parents and, by extension, families and Government all must work to ensure children’s fundamental rights, and said she prayed that “as a Government and society we find opportunities year-round to afford our youth and children the opportunity to be heard, and to take their voices into consideration in our laws, policies and programmes.
“A strong child supported by strong families will certainly nurture a strong and productive society. I implore all within the sound of my voice to look within our nuclear and extended families and seek ways to strengthen each and every child in our society!”
The Minister also addressed participants in the Parade and Youth Rally, which included Hillside Christian Schools pupils and teachers, and Generation New Status drum band.
Pupils wore shirts made especially for the occasion, matching the parade’s banner that included the message “It should not hurt to be a child.” The words “hurt, bruised, cursed, scarred, crying – stop the abuse,” also were superimposed over the picture of a young child’s face.
The troupes started at Great Bay Sports Auditorium and paraded along Walter Nisbeth Road to the Government Administration Building, where there were addresses by the youth, including prayers and declarations.
The event was organised by the Department of Youth Affairs in collaboration with Team Blue Ribbon, the winners of the Youth Desk Innovation Competition.
A full slate of activities from now to December 13 has been organised by the Department in collaboration with other stakeholders as part of an annual awareness campaign that aims to bring awareness to children, parents and the community on the whole about the rights and responsibilities of children.
The activities are aimed at all age groups and are open to the public.
This year’s theme focuses on “Family and Society” under the slogan “Strong Families Nurture Strong Societies,” which addresses articles 5 and 9 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
“These articles were chosen as focal points for this year’s campaign, considering that the stakeholders committee recognises the important role of the family and by extension the community in nurturing wholesome and productive children and thereby positively influencing the society in which we live,” said the Department.
The calendar includes a Sports Day and Family Fun Day hosted by St. Maarten Early Childhood and Development Foundation on Saturday, a Panel Discussion hosted by the Voice of Our Children (VOOC) Foundation on November 27 and a public meeting of St. Maarten Youth Council on rights of the child at the Parliament Building on the same day.
A Sports Day with friendly games will take place at Raoul Illidge Sports Complex November 28, hosted by the Department of Sports, the Department of Youth Affairs and the French Collectivité, and finally, a Rights of the Child Christmas Party for invited children will take place at Little League Baseball Park on December 13.
The full calendar of events can be found on the Department’s Facebook page.
Source: The Daily Herald Rights of Child Campaign kicks off on UN Int’l. Day