Mon | Sep 25, 2017

You can be PM one day, Holness tells state wards

Published:Saturday | May 21, 2016 | 5:00 AMAnastasia Cunningham
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) applauds a female ward of the state after she sang a beautiful rendition of Fantasia's 'I Believe'. She is being embraced by permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Elaine Foster Allen. The Child Development Agency took 48 wards of the state on an excursion to various places as part of National Children's Day yesterday. One of the stops was a visit to the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew.

The children were all fired up and excited to sit with Prime Minister Andrew Holness at his office yesterday - National Children's Day - listening to his words of advice while getting a chance to talk with him, asking questions that at times gave him pause.

What is it like being prime minister? What plans do you have for the country? What are your views on the treatment of Jamaicans in Trinidad? These were among several questions the children of various ages asked Holness.

"These are some very serious questions," the prime minister said with a smile, eliciting laughter from the beaming boys and girls in state care.

As part of the commemoration of Child Month, the Child Development Agency (CDA) decided that exposing the children in state care to different institutions in Jamaica was important for their development. As such, 48 children from eight state homes and several foster homes in Kingston and St Andrew were selected to be part of this first-of-its-kind excursion. They were divided into four groups, which visited either the Office of the Prime Minister, Gordon House, the Norman Manley International Airport, or the National Gallery.

"There is no limit to what you can achieve. Where you were born or the circumstances under which you were born do not define you. Any one of you here can become prime minister. Jamaica places no limit on you. You all can become prime minister one day. Work hard, keep your values and principles and dedication. That is what will determine your future," Holness told the youngsters.

 

CHILDREN AND FIRES

 

Asked by the children to speak on the issue of children perishing in fires, the prime minister indicated that his Government was determined to find a solution to help minimise such tragedies. One of those possible solutions, he said, was looking into providing solar lamps for families in inner-city and rural communities to reduce the usage of candles and kerosene lamps - the causes of several house fires.

"It was very awesome. It was the first time I got to meet him. I learn so much today. I now have more hope and am looking forward to being the next prime minister," a 16-year-old female ward shared with The Gleaner.

 For one 11-year-old male ward, “I feel really good today and want to do my part to help make Jamaica better.”

“I feel like a king,” another 16-year-old male ward stated, after getting a chance to sit in the prime minister’s chair. “I never been in a seat like that before, so I feel very special.”

A gifted teenage girl capped off the visit with a beautiful rendition of Fantasia’s ‘I Believe’, tugging the hearts of everyone in the room.

“We felt it was important to expose them to this side of Jamaica, allow them to experience various aspects. We thought being exposed to these areas and getting a chance to interact with the prime minister and others would motivate them, be educational and prove quite valuable to their development. This is the first time we are doing this and we certainly intend to do it again,” stated Robert Williams, CDA Regional Director for the South East Region.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com