SKNIS Photo: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Honourable, Shawn Richards, speaking during his address.
Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 03, 2016 (SKNIS): June 1, 2016, officially marked the opening of this year’s 32nd Child Month, which is being celebrated under the theme “Instil values, build strong children, secure the future.”
Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Education, Honourable Shawn Richards, stated during his opening address, that the observance of Child Month puts the spotlight on children and allows the nation time to focus more specifically on its most valuable resource. The deputy prime minister said that “each parent, guardian, sibling, family member, recognizes the need for children to have right values of respect, kindness, honesty, courage, perseverance, self-discipline, compassion, generosity and dependability.”
“Let these values stand as a sign post in the direction that children’s lives will head,” said Minister Richards, adding that teaching and demonstrating these values will protect children from potentially destructive influences and lay the foundation for them to become good, strong citizens, who hold the future in their hands.
“We cannot therefore underestimate the importance of fulfilling our responsibilities as parents, guardians and care givers as we try to instil solid morals in our children,” said the minister.
The minister cited Dr. Gary Hill, Director of Clinical Services at the Family Institute at North-western University in the United States, who stated that parents should make time for their children and make that time count. They should talk to them about what is right and wrong and what constitutes good behaviour and what does not. Have these kinds of discussions with their children on a regular basis so that the topic of values becomes a completely normal one in the household. That way, in the future, if the children face moral challenges, they are going to be more comfortable raising the subject with the parent than with their peers. If the issues are not addressed, society will fill the void. Parents should not allow themselves to get too busy to have real conversations with their children. Children grow up very fast therefore parents should use the time wisely. Parents should also make sure that they leave time within their schedule for consistent quality facetime with their children while they are still young.
Minister Richards said that there are a number of activities for everyone to be involved in including a variety of concerts, church services and children recreation days in the different zones. There will also be a family food fair at the Independence Square on Friday June 17 and Grand Parade and T-shirt day on Friday June 24 starting at Greenlands at 9:00 a.m., ending at Independence Square. The deputy prime minister encouraged everyone to come out and show their support for the children and teachers and mentioned that every Saturday, “Totally for Kids” will air on ZIZ radio at 9:00 a.m. during the month.
Deputy Prime Minister Richards, took the opportunity to thank the sponsors who came on board to support the activities. These include: Carib Crafts and Graphics; TDC; O.D Brisbane, St. Kitts Breweries; Government Printery; Ministries of Sports, Social Development and Health; Make Me Happy Business; ZIZ Radio; Mount Carmel Baptist Church; Dieppe Bay Methodist Church; St. George’s Anglican Church; principals of various schools, the Child Month Committee, chair persons and stakeholders.
Minister Richards commended the staff at the Early Childhood Development Unit and all other partners for organizing the activities which will be held during the month.
“Your hard work, dedication and commitment have borne fruit and we are looking forward to this year’s child month of activities,” said the minister.
Minister Richards said that the Ministry of Education acknowledges the importance of securing the nation’s future by ensuring that all preschool children will have a solid foundation going into primary school. This will be achieved as preschool education is free.
The minister said that there has been ongoing local and overseas training of supervisors and teachers and added that Victoria Road Preschool will soon be opened.
“All of these initiatives will ensure that my government’s mandate be realized,” he said. “The future of our nation will be secured with the preparation of our youth.”
Deputy Prime Minister Richards pledged the government’s commitment to the enhancement of children, in particular preschool children and all those who work with the Early Childhood Development Unit.