The San Pedro Town Council holds Child Friendly Workshop
Saturday, October 17th, 2015
The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) held a Child Friendly Initiative Workshop on Friday, October 9th. The program is an initiative of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Belize Mayors Association and the Ministry of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development, National Emergency Management, Immigration and Nationality. The meeting took place at the SPTC conference room, and saw the presence of different members of the public sector including The San Pedro Sun. The seminar’s main purpose was to bring a group of people together who play a role in the lives of children in San Pedro and complete a plan of action as it relates to the Sustainable Child Friendly Municipalities initiative.
According to organizer Jorge Aldana, San Pedro has been behind in terms of forming a steering committee and the Child Advisory Body (CAB), since it was hard to get the members together during the summer. “What we did was to invite the various stakeholders together to educate them on what the initiative is all about and to get them to understand that their role is to move forward. That led to a healthy discussion about some of the challenges that the island is facing as it relates to issues affecting children. Then finally, we came up with certain activities that will help address our indicators that will now form the pillars that we will work on in the coming months or years,” said Aldana.
Some of the indicators the committee will be executing will be identifying parks and playgrounds that need to be refurbished, monitoring the number of meetings conducted with the CAB, assessing the number of schools implementing an anti-bully campaign/strategy/actions and which schools have proper garbage collection and waste disposal systems. Eventually these indicators will morph into some of the pillars which are: play and leisure, participation, safety and protection, and health and social services.
Aldana stated that it is important for everyone to work towards fulfilling a certain criteria if San Pedro should be certified as a Child Friendly Municipality. “The Child Friendly Municipalities committee comprises of a larger body of stakeholders from various members of the community. For planning sessions, the larger committee saw the need for the formation of a steering committee (core group) that will be in charge of steering the initiative and will meet more frequently than the larger group,” commented Aldana.
The steering committee called for key people from the larger committee, and comprises of various stakeholders. The following are the selected members of the new steering committee: Chairman Jorge Aldana of San Pedro Town Child Friendly Municipalities Initiative Rapporteur, Vice Chairman, Councilor Hector “Tito” Alamilla of San Pedro Town Council, PC Juan Chuc of the Community Policing Unit (Police Department, Enrique Alpuche of Ministry of Health Representative (San Pedro PolyClinic) Nelma Jones of Ministry of Education (District Education Officer for the Cayes), Dion Vansen of The San Pedro Sun, Alexis Guerrero, representing secondary school, and representing the Primary and Pre-schools were Sharron Hazel, Nisbet Perez, Roxanni Kay and Javier Gongora.
The only missing member was one from the larger group, CAB, a group that will be comprised of various groups and schools that will be organized before October 25th. Prior to the group’s formation, the schools will be holding individual elections to submit their representative of the CAB. The CAB is one component of the Child Friendly Municipalities Initiative and is basically a committee made up of children with their own elected body. The committee will be gender inclusive and will take into consideration children living with special needs. This committee will have an active member on the steering committee.
The main responsibilities of the committee will include coordination at the district level efforts, and initiatives geared towards improvement in the lives of children, adolescents, women and men in their respective municipalities. There will be the liability of monitoring and reporting the progress of the outcomes of the municipal plan. The committee will need to advocate for a relevant response to areas where children’s rights are not being fulfilled within the municipality. As well, they will recommend to the municipality effective uses of technical and financial resources. Lastly and very importantly, liaise and enable vertical and horizontal communication and sharing (reporting).
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