Officials from the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development, New Providence office traveled to Grand Bahama to support their colleagues for the launch of Child Protection Month, which is celebrated annually during the month of April.
Under the theme, ‘Building Communities, Building Hope,’ committee members of the Child Protection Month have a number of activities slated for the month, in order to sensitize the public on the importance of child safety and protection.
During a press conference held on Friday (March 31), Phedra Rahming, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Community Development said, “Today, we are launching Child Protection Month. It has already been launched in New Providence, but today we are launching in Grand Bahama. The common theme that we are using is, ‘Building communities.’ The month will seek to bring greater attention to child protection issues and those related.”
Melanie Zonicle, Director, Department of Social Services shared how important the month of April is, with respect to protecting our children.
“We invite the Grand Bahama community to take advantage of all the activities that will be held for the public. I would like to thank Mrs. Carolyn Ferguson for the work that she does with the National Child Protection Council (NCPC), which is headed by pastor Gill Maycock and Dr. Novia Carter.
“I would also like to say thank you to our Permanent Secretary Phedra Rahming and other senior officers from New Providence, Deputy Permanent Secretary Carol Johnson and Chief Executive Officer Mrs. Poitier. We are here to support the work of the Grand Bahama office and we wish that the wider community in Grand Bahama will also support these activities for child protection month.”
Paula Marshall, Department of Social Services Assistant Director shared the significance of Child Protection Month and the importance of ensuring that all children are kept in the best of care. “Every year the Department of Social Services host a month of activities to help the community understand the importance of protecting our children.
“There are number of forces that exist within the community that could affect the safety of our children. These can come from within the home, as well as outside of the home … we are talking about physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, and in some cases and what is very concerning is the amount of verbal abuse that is being seen exhibited toward our children.
“In order for us to build persons in our society, who are able to be well nurtured and able to handle the pressures that life brings, we have to be able to build, in our children the kind of strength needed to cope as adults.
“The theme this year is very important in terms of building communities, building hope; those children who have been affected, their hope in terms of what is happening to them and how they are going to manage, can be very much damaged. In order for us to make sure that we address this concern, we have a number of activities that we are going to be going through, in this month.”
She noted that the activities include workshops for both parents and staff of the Department of Social Services, church services and the launching of the pinwheels throughout various major thoroughfares on the island, which will serve as reminders of Child Protection Month and the importance of it.
Carolyn Ferguson, Member, National Child Protection Council, representing Grand Bahama noted, “This month, Child Protection Month, the council will be coming to Grand Bahama to erect and launch the pinwheel, telling of child protection throughout the island of Grand Bahama. We will start on April 4 and conclude on April 6. We will start at Eight Mile Rock High, where all of the primary schools will assemble in their gymnasium for a seminar.”
According to Ferguson, the pinwheel will then be erected at the Eight Mile Rock entrance.
The group will then travel to West End and another pinwheel will be placed at the West End Primary School. “On Wednesday we will be in Freeport, and on Thursday, we go into High Rock, leaving no constituency or any part of Grand Bahama left out.”
Dorothea Gomez, Chief Welfare Officer shared the significance of utilizing the pinwheel to relay the relevance of Child Protection Month.
“In The Bahamas and worldwide, April is designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month. In 2008, ‘Prevent Child Abuse America’ introduced the pinwheel as the national United States symbol for child abuse prevention. The pinwheel was selected because it represents the very whimsical, imaginative and playful nature of children. It is a reminder of the childhood that all children deserve to have, free from abuse and neglect.
“Throughout the island of Grand Bahama we will launch these pinwheels at various roundabouts on the island, this is to sensitize the public about child abuse, during the month of April, Child Protection Month.”
Published Tuesday, April 4, 2017