Focus on identity for Rights of the Child 2013

POSTED: 11/21/13 1:23 PM

St. Maarten – Children need special protection and even with migration patterns, they must feel a sense of belonging. That was the message of Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams for yesterday’s observance of International Day of the Rights of the Child.

Articles 7 and 8 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child were extracted and made the theme for this year’s observance: My Right to My Identity, My Right to Belong.

“You may have been confronted with children on St. Maarten who do not enjoy a clear and concise identity and the kind of protection that is required for children. Too often different departments in government are asked what should be done with children who are neglected or brought by their parents here to the island and then are unsure of where they belong. If we recognize what identity and belonging means for all including children, it is easy to conclude that if we don’t support in this respect, as young people we are going to have future generations and leaders of this community who do not understand where they belong and where their rights are in the society,” she stated to a room full of school children, youth care representatives and government officials.

Governments representing both sides of the island convened at the Belair Community Center for the official start of this month’s calendar of activities.

The prime minister commended the joint hosting of the international day. She had special words of praise for the schools and foundations that are participating in the various child rights awareness activities and are also involved in the daily care of children.

“We have, in becoming a country on October 10, 2010 become a separate party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In doing this we have become even more accountable to the international community and we need to show when and how we make progress as far as upholding  the rights of the child as put forward in the Convention. While that is important and there is always the pressure to show that we are making strides in that respect, I believe that it is even more important  what we do here on St. Maarten for the children. As we go into this process, awareness especially starting with the parents is important. But it does not stop there, it should also include schools and the entire community,” she added.

Vice president in charge of Social Affairs of the Collectivite Ramona Connor explained that she was heartened by the theme chosen for this year’s celebration, which stressed the importance of who they are in life.

President of the Youth Parliament Rochana Richardson also delivered remarks and was followed by the head of the Department of Youth Affairs Shermina Powell-Richardson.

Student presentations were also delivered from schools representing the Public Education School Board, the Catholic School Board, Methodist Agogic Center School Board, Seventh Day Adventist School Board, Hillside Christian School, Learning Unlimited, ACE Foundation, Caribbean International Academy, St. Maarten Academy, Foundation Secondary Education and the Charlotte Brookson Academy for Performing Arts.

Last night, the St. Maarten Promoting Young Ambassadors Foundation hosted a movie night at the Belair Community Center.

Tomorrow, the St. Maarten Youth Council and Youth Parliamentarians will make a presentation to the Parliament while all roads will lead to the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex, LB Scot Sports Auditorium and Melford Hazel Center for a joint government sports day on Saturday.  On Wednesday November 27, the Collectivite of St. Martin will host a Youth Fun Day at the Loterie Farm. The Belvedere Community Center is the venue for a talent show on November 30 that will be organized by the St. Maarten Early Childhood Development Association. The calendar of activities for International Day of the Rights of the Child comes to a close on December 6 with a panel discussion by the Voice Of Our Children Foundation on teenage pregnancy on Belair Community Center.

In 1989, governments worldwide promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights are based on what a child needs to survive, grow, participate and fulfill their potential. They apply equally to every child, regardless of who they are, or where they are from.
The Convention says that every child has the right to a childhood (including protection from harm), the right to be educated (including all girls and boys completing primary school), the right to be healthy (including having clean water, nutritious food and medical care), the right to be treated fairly (including changing laws and practices that are unfair on children), the right to be heard (including considering children’s views).

It’s the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history; however, every day these rights are denied. Millions of children are dying from preventable diseases. Millions more don’t go to school, or have food, shelter and clean water. Children are subjected to violence, abuse and discrimination, and go unheard.

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