Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Kids mimic senators in House visit

Published:Saturday | October 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Tom Tavares-Finson

They came, they saw, and they behaved like senators, including being bored with the business of the Upper House. Except that they were kindergartners, aged two to six years old, from the Truth Tabernacle Early Childhood Education Centre in Cumberland, St Catherine.

Fifty of them, along with teachers and parents, entered George William Gordon House for yesterday's sitting of the Senate minutes before it began shortly after 10 a.m., energising the gallery with much more sound than usual in an area where adults move noiselessly.

Showing none of the tensions often displayed by adult first-timers to the House, the children took their seats, sometimes two per seat, as their tiny bodies filled up half the chairs.

Listening attentively to instructions from public relations officer of the Houses of Parliament Tashanna Alcock, they were told to stand when the marshal announced the arrival of Senate President Tom Tavares Finson.

Following instructions carefully, the students were on their feet on his arrival and continued standing through the prayers.

"All the little kids up at the top who are clapping, welcome to the Senate. And some of them, I think, are wearing pink. I want to welcome, as well, the members of the staff, teachers, and caregivers. I hope you enjoy yourselves today," said Tavares Finson.




The children clapped and banged in usual senate style.

"Allow the kids a bit of latitude," Tavares Finson told the House. "Don't be too harsh with them because you don't want them to think that this is a frightening place. Welcome, and you are always welcome to return at any time. Just get in touch with the clerk and come and spend some of your Fridays with us."

The children stayed for only a small fraction of the four-hour sitting before they left quietly.

However, like real senators are prone to do, leaving the sitting when the discussion becomes tedious, one of the youngsters wanted out very early.

"It too boring, and I don't want to stay in there," she told a female police officer before being escorted out of the chamber to the upstairs lobby, where she was allowed to play a little.

Jokingly, the officer told her that she would lock her up if she didn't behave herself, to which the child quipped, "Lock me up."

Principal of the school, Shellane Dwyer, said that the visit was part of the school's developmental programme and an effort to have the children see Jamaica's leaders in action.

"It's National Heritage Month, and we wanted to expose the children to greatness. We wanted to show them who our leaders are. We want them to see leadership in action. We wanted them to see Senator Ruel Reid because we let them know that he is responsible for all schools, including theirs," she told The Gleaner.