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Jul 21, 2017

How to Help Children in Disasters Return to Happiness

A week-long workshop by the Ministry of Local Government in collaboration with UNICEF concluded today at the Biltmore Plaza. Representatives from both private and public sector agencies and organizations that work with the youth participated in a Return to Happiness training that taught the participants with the knowhow when providing support to children, who may be adversely affected by traumatic experiences. These are particularly as it relates to fires, natural disasters such as hurricanes and even murders. News Five spoke with Denise Robateau of UNICEF and C.E.O. in the Ministry of Local Government Kerry Belisle about what is expected of the participants when they return to their respective communities.

 

Kerry Belisle

Kerry Belisle, C.E.O., Ministry of Local Government

“The Return to Happiness training is really a component in the larger initiative at the ministry level to create sustainable child friendly municipalities and what we found is that on the path to a child friendly municipality, you have these interventions—fires, death…things that impact children in a real and profound way that sometimes we don’t quite see. So that this training, and from the response that we seen, has really actually opened the eyes of those persons who would be first responders. And the evidence has shown that impact within the first forty-eight hours of a disaster is most important to ensure that children do not suffer adverse psychological effects from trauma.”

 

Denise Robateau

Denise Robateau, Early Childhood Development & Education Officer, UNICEF

“The participants are expected to run with the program. We had a time for pledges and commitments and it was really overwhelming to hear the passion, to hear the commitment. And this is because this is necessary in our society. And so we don’t need to wait until a hurricane or until a natural disaster, our participants are seeing where it is necessary even in their own homes. And so we have organizations as POWA, Child Development Foundation, Restore Belize and others who have the capacity right now to run with it within their communities to see where children are affected, where children are traumatized and where the Return to Happiness Program can make a difference.”

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