As part of a campaign to encourage more fathers to read to their children, the Ministry of Education and Youth has unveiled a mural at 20-23 Church Street in downtown Kingston.
The unveiling of the colourful artwork depicting a father reading a book with his child, coincides with the observance of Father’s Day (June 19).
Dubbed ‘Fathers Read Too’, the campaign is aimed at highlighting the role of fathers in the educational development of children.
The mural which was commissioned by the ministry, was done in partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation.
It was unveiled by Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams; Chief Education Officer (Acting), Ministry of Education and Youth, Dr. Kasan Troupe; Permanent Secretary (Acting) in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Maureen Dwyer; Country Representative, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Jamaica, Mariko Kagoshima; Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor, Delroy Williams; Project Manager, Fathers Read Too, Shantole Thompson and Director-General, Jamaica Library Society, Maureen Thompson.
In her remarks, Minister Williams called on the nation’s fathers, especially those with young children, to begin a habit of reading to and with their children, “if you don’t already do so.
“By starting the journey of building a lifelong love of reading for pleasure, parents are giving their children the opportunity to be the best they can be. Children who read for pleasure do better in a wide range of subjects at school and it also positively impacts children’s wellbeing,” the Minister said.
She added that reading together brings comfort and reassurance, confidence and security, relaxation, and happiness to children. “Giving a children time and the full attention when reading them a story, tells them they matter, it builds self esteem and their vocabulary. They learn more words, they learn new words. Reading feeds their imagination. Reading to your children is one of the greatest gifts fathers can give,” she said.
Minister Williams said the ministry has many resources available on its website and encouraged parents to visit libraries with their children.
She further noted that the Jamaica Library Service has an island wide network of 111 public and 898 school libraries.
“Ask your child to check out a book from school and bring it home. The JLS also has a mobile library service which serves some 394 communities, so there is no absence of resources. Even on your devices that you have, smartphones, laptops, tablets, lots of e-books are available there as well,” she said.
Minister Williams added that throughout the month of June and beyond, the ministry will continue the campaign. “We know that reading is the best gift from a father to a child because it will last for a lifetime,” she said.
Ms. Kagoshima said the campaign raises awareness and empowers fathers, noting that involved fatherhood is good for children. “You are giving spotlight to many fathers who do make this difference and letting other fathers know that you too can have a positive impact on your child’s development through reading,” she said.
Mayor Williams said the entire wall space on Church Street will be covered with murals over time. He said the placement of the mural highlights the totality of the family. “It’s right next door to another mural that is speaking to mother and child and so we see the totality of growing our children,” he said.
Project Manager, Fathers Read Too, Shantole Thompson said the mural has components such as the Agapanthus Lily which represents tenderness and compassion and is considered a magical and medicinal plant that only blooms in June, the month when Father’s Day is observed.
The mural was painted by Anthony Smith.