Councillor urges more children outreach from church

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — One of this parish’s local government officials is calling on the church to play a more active role in guiding children, even as he encouraged parents and communities to be more caring towards young people.

Councillor Jones Oliphant (People’s National Party, Mandeville Division) made the appeal while representing Mandeville Mayor Donovan Mitchell at the National Child Month Church Service on Sunday at Wesley Mount Methodist Church in Williamsfield, Manchester.

“I have to rap the church, whether you have church on Saturday or Sunday. Most of our churches are not involved in the community and our youths as they ought to. Our churches need to do more by opening up opportunities wherein our young people can be involved in activities. It is no use saying ‘in my days and the good old days this used to happen’. Be part of it,” said Oliphant, who is a Seventh-day Adventist.

Child Month is observed in May with activities organised by the National Child Month Committee which the chair, Dr Pauline Mullings, said is celebrating 70 years.

“For this year, our platinum year, we have selected our motto and have added action to it: ‘Children need our love and protection. Get involved.’ Parents, adults, we really hope you understand where we are. We really want you to be involved,” she said.

“We must visit the village approach to raising our children where the community [assisted] in safeguarding our children and collectively saw to their well-being,” added Dr Mullings.

Oliphant said the theme of love and protection for the nation’s children is fitting “because we have departed from love at home and depend so much on cash at home that love is thrown through the window”.

“Children need to know that at home is where you feel welcomed. There should be no reason why you want to stay out and not go home, because at home is where love [should] be,” added Oliphant as he called on parents to prioritise time for bonding with their children.

Dr Mullings said parents must remember the meaning and power of love and protection.

“In this business of parenting. The words love and protection carry real power when executed as part of our care packaging when we are raising our children. The power of love is life-changing and love is what our children and young people crave for today,” she said.

“Protection creates a feeling of strength and positivity and makes our children feel safe and secure. If we are going to change our society, we must include these two elements in order to raise righteous, caring, loving, competent and responsible children,” added Dr Mullings.

Senior director of the Children’s Affairs Policy Division Hyacinth Blair, who represented Education Minister Fayval Williams, announced that the Ministry of Education will fund a psycho-educational assessment for grade six students.”The special focus on Child Month annually allows us to reflect on the challenges facing children and to recommit to playing our part in addressing any shortfalls,” she said.

“We are also aware of challenges that leave students inadequately prepared for higher learning by not developing on the required skills by the time they reach grade six. This year we have deployed an additional assessment tool which is psycho-educational assessment… by which we are seeking to identify students currently in grade six who are performing significantly and consistently below the desired grade level. The results [of the assessment] will be used to guide their teaching and learning plans for the new school year,” she added.