Children and their parents this week are taking part in a fun-filled program of the Children’s Rights Week which is organized on Saba every year in November. This year’s theme is: Reimagine a better future for every child.
The annual Children’s Rights Week started on Monday, November 15 with the opening ceremony at the gym in the presence of pupils, teaching staff of the Sacred Heart School (SHS) and invited guests. Teacher Orlando McPherson spoke about the importance of upholding children’s rights, but also noted that these rights come with responsibilities.
Island Council Member Vito Charles spoke at the opening ceremony about leadership. “We can only prepare our children for leadership if we give them the tools and guidance so that they can develop into the leaders our homes, community and island need in the future. The Children’s Rights are a toolbox to help us learn how to empower our young people along the way. Children’s rights are real and if we want to see great leadership in our community far into the future, we must not just dust off children’s rights once a year for a week, but they must become an integral part of the choices we make in developing the leaders in our community,” he said.
Charles said it was important that the community recognizes that leaders can only thrive in healthy and nurturing environments. Health plays an important role in raising leaders: having a healthy lifestyle and taking care of mental health. But, the most important and perhaps critical right of the child is the reduction of poverty. “Children do not choose the circumstances that they grow up in. We cannot allow poverty to persist in our society because we know once it takes root its effects are almost insurmountable,” he said. Island Governor Jonathan Johnson wished the children a happy Children’s Rights Week. Monday’s program was mixed with a reading, the reciting of a poem and different songs.
Commissioner of Youth Affairs Rolando Wilson, who was unable to attend Monday’s opening because he was on a working visit to St. Eustatius, reaffirmed his support for the upholding and observing of children’s rights. He said the government continued to invest in the wellbeing of the children on Saba, but pointed out that children have responsibilities too. “You need to make sure that you go to school and pay keen attention so that you learn well and advance yourself. By knowing your rights and responsibilities you are to become the future role models for those who have to follow in your footsteps.”
On Tuesday, November 16, children and their parent(s) took part in the Family Saban Challenge Children’s Rights Edition at the Johan Cruyff Court where they played a series of fun games to promote being together. On Wednesday, November 17, high-school students participated in a Teens trivia Night at the Sunny Valley Youth Center. Daycare children enjoyed the reading activity at the Laura Linzey Day Care Center on Thursday, November 18.
Six children’s rights
On Friday afternoon, November 19, the annual Children’s Rights Expo Market will take place at the Johan Cruyff Court. Stakeholders and organizations will have booths at this very popular event. The Children’s Rights Week will be closed off on Saturday, November 20 with a parade. Children and their parents will walk from St. John’s to The Bottom, wearing t-shirts in six different colors, each depicting one of the six children’s rights that the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) selected as focal points for this year.
The Children’s Rights Week is held every year to emphasize the importance of children’s rights, and to remind children and parents of this, while creating awareness in a playful manner, explained Mildred Rijhiner, Coordinator Domestic Violence & Child Abuse of the Department of Community Development. “We do this with, and for the children,” said Rijhiner. The idea is to involve all age groups. In total, some 350 children participate in the different activities, which also involve the parents. Saba’s Children’s Rights Week is quite special as there are not many places in the world where this is observed for a whole week. The Children’s Rights Week is funded by the Public Entity Saba with financial input of the Dutch Government.
Commissioner Wilson congratulated all stakeholders who have contributed in one way or the other in making this year’s Children’s Rights Week a success. “May these rights and responsibilities be observed and adhered to at all times,” said Wilson, who encouraged parents to come out with the children for Saturday’s parade.