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Feb 27, 1998

Children?s Week and Child Stimulation Month to be observed

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The development of children and the protection of their rights are issues that have long been the focus of much public discussion and debate. And will continue to be… at least for the next thirty days as Jacqueline Woods found out.

Advocacy groups, including kindergarten and primary schools countrywide are gearing up for a month of special activities focusing on the rights of children. The observation starts on Saturday with the opening of Children’s Week hosted jointly by the National Committee for Families and Children and the Children’s Day Planning Committee. The activities are intended to draw attention to a global problem that is becoming all too familiar on the streets of Belize.

Sharon Palacio, Coordinator, Children’s Day Planning Committee

“When it comes to working children, we thought that indeed, we thought that indeed it was a good idea and we should work in solidarity with them. Because if you look around Belize you find children who are actually employed, as a result, our main focus is to raise awareness in Belize related to child labor.”

While there are no statistics to say how severe the problem is in Belize, Palacio says there is cause for concern.

Sharon Palacio

“What we do know is that we have children in different areas that are employed and we could see them on a daily basis. But when it comes to a compiled amount, I wouldn’t be able to tell you that. That is something that the National Committee for Families and Children will be undertaking, all we need now is to allocate some funds, or find some money to conduct that survey and as you know surveys are quite expensive.”

But the child labor awareness campaign is not the only activity for children’s week. Other events will include workshops for children where they will be given the opportunity to discuss ways of reducing absenteeism, a road March, traveling art exhibition, and story telling. While older children will get their moment in the spotlight, preschoolers well also be involved in some activities of their own as Child Stimulation Month gets underway on Sunday.

Sharon Baird, Resource Coordinator, Preschool Unit

“The month is made up of a lot of different activities where parents can get involved and they will see the activities that children can do to aid in their growth and development.

Many times parents feel that children should only be seen and not heard and then again in the same breathe they say what do you want to be when you grow up? and often times we ask those children these questions and we boasts, oh he wants to be a doctor, or he wants to be a lawyer, but how serious do we take it. So this year we have decided instead of just picking a theme and try to depict that theme, we decided that we are going to ask children what they wanted to be and many of the teachers countrywide have done that and so the children will be depicting what they want to be when they grow up.”

Child Stimulation Month this year will be observed under the theme: “Through The Eyes of A Child,” and will involve as much as possible the participation of parents and guardians in activities involving their pre-school aged children. Child Stimulation Month ends on March twenty seventh with the annual children’s parade.

Children’s Week ’98 starts on Sunday with a National Day of Prayer. It will be declared open by the Minister of Youth Faith Babb. In related news, NOPCA-Saves emergency shelter in the Nation’s capital will for the duration of the week be accepting public donations of necessary household items to help keep its services to needy children in the area on-going. Persons interested in contributing are asked to call the organization at telephone number (08)20100.

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