Minister Bodden’s Child Month Message

| 01/05/2015
Cayman News Service

Osbourne Bodden, Cayman Islands Minister of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports

(Government): As the new Minister for Community Affairs, Youth and Sports, it brings me great pleasure to launch – for the first time – the Cayman Islands’ 19th annual Child Month celebrations.

May is a time when we express our appreciation for the boys and girls of the Cayman Islands. As such, I am proud to announce that the Department of Children and Family Services in conjunction with the Ministry, and various other organisations have planned a month of activities that will encourage families to reconnect, spend quality time together and raise awareness about the issues surrounding the safety and healthy development of our children.

In our 19th year of commemorating Child Month, we celebrate this year’s theme “Opening Our Hearts”. This theme is very timely given the myriad of social issues that our children and families are experiencing in today’s society. It is especially in times like these that we must reflect on what is truly important; we come to realise that our love for our children is not measured by the amount of material things they possess. Instead, it is measured by the time and love we dedicate to them as parents, guardians, aunts and uncles and grandparents; as their primary role models. So  whether you can participate by feeding a child in need, creating lasting memories, promoting the rights of our children, or reading a book to a child – no matter how big or small – it will make a difference in a child’s life.

Child Month is an international celebration which serves to focus our collective attention on our children. It further reminds us of the important roles that we as a community  play in their  lives and reinforces the need to help build children’s self-esteem and nurture positive growth through dedicating our time and love. Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways that we can build young people’s abilities and promote their well-being, in every interaction, is crucial to the future of community.

This is further supported by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child which puts the family, more specifically parents and other primary caregivers at the centre of a child’s development. The Convention recognizes that “the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding…”. This captures what we sometimes forget as we struggle to pay the costs of sending children to school and putting food on the table. We may be failing to make the choice to do without something and spend time with our children instead. For the nurturing and positive time we spend with our children creates a lasting bond – a bond that no one can replace.

Over the last four decades, Caymanian families have had to adapt to tremendous economic, social, cultural and environmental changes. These changes continue to challenge us and, as such, the need to have a supportive, loving and strong family system is more important than ever. This is why my Ministry works tirelessly to promote human development as a top priority in the Cayman Islands.

Collectively, the Ministry’s agencies ensure that children are protected from abuse and neglect; provided with an opportunity to develop skills to equip them for adulthood, be involved and make positive contributions to our Islands, and to be prepared to meet difficulties and uncertainties and to overcome them and still reach their full potential. To ensure that parents and guardians are equipped and empowered my Ministry will continue to provide services and programmes that are family-centered.

We want our parents and guardians to feel confident in their ability to care for their children but also reassured that help is available to them when they need it. We want to create a culture in which it is not seen as a sign of failure for parents to ask for help and support. This isn’t about dictating to parents how to bring up their own child. It is about making it easier for them to understand the positive difference they can make in their child’s development, helping equip them for the journey and ultimately making parenting an even more rewarding experience. It’s also about ensuring parents and guardians get the support they need to prevent problems from arising or escalating, and as such is a clear demonstration of our commitment to prevention and early intervention, and improving children and young people’s lives. Let us continue to engage their bright young minds, show them love, share time with them, as well as inspire and motivate them to achieve their dreams, as they will grow to shape and strengthen our community.

Lastly, I extend my gratitude to the staff of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Child Month Committee for organising Child Month each year and I encourage everyone to participate in the various activities that are planned and educate themselves on what is being done to care for and protect our children.

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