State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, says that this year’s celebration of Child Month, while challenging, coming at a time when the globe is facing a pandemic, highlighted the resilience of the Jamaican people, particularly children.
Mr. Terrelonge was bringing greetings at the National Day of Prayer, the final activity for Child Month 2020, which was held on May 27 at the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester.
“May is Child Month – a time when we adults, and parents especially, make a deliberate and intentional effort to recognise and prioritise the needs and concerns of our children. However, the advent of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made things exceptionally challenging for both parents and children this year,” he noted.
He pointed out, however, that “if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are all resilient – our children even more so”.
Despite a scaling down of activities this year, due to COVID-19, children were able to participate in a number of activities, including a virtual ‘Pickney Party’ and talent show showcasing their abilities in the performing and visual arts.
The Education State Minister said that change and disruption have been the order of the lives of children, who are learning to adapt to the new normal.
“It is difficult being a child in these times – the fast-paced digital age compounded by the pathologies of the pandemic – and even twice as hard for us adults to keep up with the growing list of technological changes affecting children,” he noted.
He said the theme for Child Month 2020, ‘Unplug Negativity, Connect Positivity…. Think!’ becomes even more relevant “when we consider the huge challenges and call to action that we face as parents and children who have to navigate cyberspace”.
As such, he said that children have to be taught to be more vigilant as digital habitants and to be aware of their virtual surroundings as they would in any physical space.
Statistics have shown that cybercriminals regularly target children and teens where they are most active – in chat rooms and through social media, video streaming sites and online video games.
Several pastors, church leaders and child-centred institutions participated in the National Day of Prayer.
Special prayers were offered by the National Child Month Committee (NCMC), the Portmore Deaf Church, the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Tarrant Baptist Church and students representing several schools.
Child Month was organised by the NCMC with the support of lead sponsors GraceKennedy Limited, National Baking Company Foundation and the VM Foundation.