Throughout May, the people of the Cayman Islands celebrated the 17th annual Child Month.
This year’s theme was “Care. Advocate. Protect.”
During the month, the Department of Children and Family Services, in partnership with the Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing, organised several events for families to enjoy.
These activities included church services, reading days at various preschools, family socials dedicated to specific relationships, fun days, art and cultural days, fundraising dress down days, a culinary competition and a board games night.
“This year’s Child Month theme reminds us that we cannot forget that our children must be an integral part of the national development and future of these Islands,” said Cayman Brac District Commissioner Ernie Scott. “Therefore, I encourage you to provide unconditional love, protection and support for our children, now and always.”
At some events, participants learned about the services and resources available for the benefit of children. Public information sessions were also held on issues relating to children in the Cayman Islands, including parenting, bullying, teen pregnancy, underage drinking, drunk driving, strengthening parent child relationships, as well as the newly introduced Children’s Law.
The law and its regulations seek to protect children, their welfare and their individual rights. It also outlines the scope of parental responsibility.
Director of the Department of Children and Family Services Alicia (Jen) Dixon explained: “This legislation will improve the level of protection for children, but also correct unfair practices and close loopholes. Its objective is to ensure that we all recognise the value of our children as we work towards building a stronger community.”
As a new feature this year, the Cayman Islands observed a day for Teen Pregnancy Prevention, International Day of the Family and also International Day for Stand Up to Bullying on 3 May, 15 May and 31 May, respectively. Additionally, 10 May was the second annual awareness day for Feed Our Future and childhood hunger.
Partnering with the Family Resource Centre, these two educational campaigns focused on the reality of teenage pregnancy prevention and anti-bullying.
Emphasising the value of children to the nation, Ms Dixon said: “We owe it to ourselves to nurture and nourish our children. How we treat them is key to the future development of this country.”
She added: “So protect our children today, for a better tomorrow.”
As a special recognition for their outstanding voluntary services to the young people in the community, Herbert Crawford received this year’s Child Month Award in Grand Cayman and Mitchum Sandford in Cayman Brac.
The Ministry and the Department of Children and Family Services thanked all of those who supported and attended the events.
Other partners included: Feed Our Future, National Museum, National Gallery, Department of Youth Services, Circle of Love Women’s Ministries, Frank Sound Church of God Chapel, Elmslie Memorial Church, Book Nook, National Drug Council, Papa John’s and many volunteers who read to the preschool kids.
Expressing the hope that the message to care and advocate for children, as well as protect them, would have an impact on adults long after celebrations ended, the Department’s Child Month Coordinator Cassandra Parchment encourages relatives and other adults to be good role models. She also reminded parents to “cherish the moments spent with your child – not just in May – but every day of every month”.