For Official Release
December 11, 2017
“KNOW YOUR RIGHTS, GET INVOVLED”
“As children and young people, you have the power to change this country; but you also have rights and responsibilities. You need to know your rights and you need to get involved so we can make Jamaica a better place.”
So said motivational speaker and “Talk Up Youth” TV host Emprezz Mullings-Golding. Emprezz was addressing an audience of combined primary school youngsters at The launch of Phase 2 of the Finding My Voice National programme at the Calabar Infant Primary and All-Age School in downtown Kingston on Monday. The programme coincided with the observance of International Human Rights Day.
The European Union funded programme will see agents of RISE Life Management Services going into schools across the island – particularly in deep rural areas – bringing sexual abuse prevention education as well as counselling to over 50,000 children over the course of 18 months.
In her typical rousing style, the guest speaker turned her guest session into equal parts “TV programme” motivational speech and civics quiz, telling the children that they were not too young to take an interest in the political system and in how laws affected them. “You need to know, along with your parents, who your Member of Parliament is, as well as your local representative, so that you can use your voice to get thing going in your communities,” she said. She exhorted the children to be active and to “talk up” because by their actions today, the future of the country is being shaped.”
Representing the EU, Head of Delegation Malgorzata Vasiliewska spoke to her own background as a human rights activist in her native Poland, making reference to that country’s repressive past . She also urged the children to take an interest in their local affairs and to ensure that they spoke up if anyone, at any time tried to deprive them of their childhood, whether through sexual or other physical and emotional abuse. “You have the right to be protected and provided for, but just as importantly, you have the right to play, and to be children,” she said.
RISE Life Executive Director Sonita Abrahams said the agency was pleased to secure funding for the second Phase, aimed as it was at protecting children from sexual and emotional abuse through early education as well as to offer counselling and other forms of social support to those who have been abused.
The Child Development Agency (now the Child Development and Family Services Agency) reported, through Rochelle Dixon, that it was receiving some 1200 child abuse reports monthly, with some 60% of those being sexual abuse complaints. Ms Dixon urged the children to report incidences of abuse , whether to a parent, family member, teacher, social worker or friend, as their silence protects the abusers.
At the end of the proceedings, the agency and the EU head signed contract document signalling the official initiation of the project. The Finding Your Voice programme will also include initiatives to help empower and protect women, and will include a Guide to Rights handbook developed in a previous EU-funded project which was implemented jointly by RISE and the British Council.