The number of youngsters afforded the opportunity to enjoy the Prime Minister’s annual Christmas treat for children has more than doubled since its inception in 2016.
The event, which started with about 500 children at Vale Royal, the Prime Minister’s official residence, has increased and now caters to as many as 2,000 youngsters.
This prompted the organisers to relocate the event to the Office of the Prime Minister’s more expansive lawns.
Busloads of children, ranging from ages three to 18, converged at the venue on Sunday (December 15) to be feted.
They were treated to gifts, food, cart rides and a range of other fun activities, including face painting, mechanical bull rides, simulated rock climbing and instant photo sessions.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, noted that each year, the treat gets bigger as more children, including those from his constituency of West Central St. Andrew, as well as the East Rural St. Andrew constituency of his wife Juliet Holness, are invited to attend.
“The treat is growing primarily because we have taken on the children’s homes that are in proximity and we have brought [children] from constituencies within the Corporate Area as well, and that’s an ever-expanding pool,” he told JIS News.
The Prime Minister said the highlight of the treat was interactions with children who are in State care who, he noted, are in need of “great attention”, but are children “with great potential”.
“Many are very polite, very responsive, very bright and, in the Christmas season, it does warm my heart to be able to interact with them to give them gifts… [and] they were very happy to receive their gifts,” he said.
Mr. Holness singled out one youngster, André, who hails from his constituency, who particularly touched his heart.
André does not have the use of his legs and gets around on his hands. Despite this, Mr. Holness noted that the youngster was “very pleasant [and] very happy”, and even showed off his juggling skills after requesting a football for his gift.
“At this season, you remember the less fortunate, you remember those who have struggled all their lives, and it is the time for giving. The treat serves that purpose; it gives back to the less fortunate. It spreads some cheer, some joy, particularly for those who are in the children’s homes and in State care who, sometimes, we don’t see them, we don’t remember them; but they, too, need the cheer. So, generally, the treat was a success,” he said.