The annual Child Month celebration in May will look a little different this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With Jamaicans instructed to avoid mass gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus, activities have been scaled back with some events, including the national church service, to be held virtually.
Chair of the National Child Month Committee (NCMC), Dr. Pauline Mullings, said that although the activities have been significantly modified there will still be opportunities for parents, caregivers and the general public to celebrate the nation’s children.
She noted that the theme for the month, ‘Unplug Negativity, Connect Positivity… Think!’ encourages persons to “use this period to really get to know and be more of a positive influence on their children”.
Dr. Mullings, who was speaking at the virtual launch of Child Month 2020 on Wednesday (April 15), said that the theme was selected to reflect “what is happening with our children, who are spending most of their time at home because of the closure of schools” and are spending more time online.
“We want to encourage persons to find more productive ways to utilise the technology which we possess, without being automatons and losing the human touch, and to use the technology to build bridges, not drive wedges,” she noted.
“In this ‘infodemic’ atmosphere, let us unplug falsehood, panic, fear, discrimination and other negatives, and connect to truth, accuracy, helpful and reassuring information; connect to each other and, most importantly, connect to God,” she added. Child Month activities will begin on Sunday, May 3, with a national virtual church service at the Port Antonio Baptist Church in Portland starting at 10:00 a.m., which will be streamed live.
Churches across the island are also being encouraged to make their services child-centred throughout the month of May.
National Children’s Day will be observed on Friday, May 15 and Jamaicans are being encouraged to wear sunshine yellow on the day, whether they are staying at home, or going out as an essential service worker.
Leading up to Children’s Day, young people, aged six to 17, will have an opportunity to share videos or photographs, showcasing their talent in song, poetry, or visual art under the Child Month theme. The creative pieces should be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, May 8.
On National Children’s Day, the videos and photographs will be featured on the NCMC Face Book page (@ncmcja), where members of the public will be invited to vote for their favourite up to May 22 at 6:00 p.m.
The entry with the most likes will be declared winner of the popular vote.
The month of activities will culminate with a National Day of Prayer on Wednesday, May 27 at the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester. Church administrators islandwide are being asked to invite their members to offer special prayers for the nation’s children on the day.
Lead sponsors for Child Month 2020 are GraceKennedy Limited and the National Baking Company Limited.