Washington Gardens SDA launch Child Month
The impact of more than 30 children being brutally killed since the start of the year has been devastating and emotionally draining for Dr Marston Thomas. In response, he intends to change the life of at least one child this month, through various programmes at the Washington Gardens Seventh-day Adventist Church (WGSDA).
"We want to do everything in our power to help at least one child at a time. The children are our future and I am very distraught with how, as a nation, we are treating our future," said Thomas, whose Personal Ministries Department will launch Child Month tomorrow at the WGSDA.
As the church continues to work to develop young people into strong, spiritual leaders of the future, children of adjoining communities are expected to turn out in droves for the launch.
Thomas pointed to the Bible story found in John Chapter 6, which highlights how a little boy gave up his lunch - five barley loaves and two fish - to Jesus Christ, who, in turn, worked a miracle, using the food to feed 5,000 people.
"So we see the good children are willing to do if we give them a chance. What we are doing to them is awful and we must stop it now," said Thomas, who is an elder at the WGSDA and president of the Adventist Laypersons Services and Industries (ASI), Inter-American Division.
The WGSDA has implemented programmes to facilitate children with their Grade Six Achievement Test and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exam preparations, plus a mentorship programme and parenting seminars to better equip parents and guardians.
The church's approach to helping children has been endorsed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
In her recent message at
the Jamaica Baptist Women Federation Annual Prayer Breakfast, the prime minister urged parents and guardians to send their children to church in order to preserve positive morals and values in the next generation.
"Send your children to church, even if you don't go. We have to go back to being a kinder Jamaica, a gentler society. We have to go back to being a people of strong values, of service, community and peace," Simpson Miller emphasised, noting that too many children were being abused and murdered.
Simpson Miller also called on women of faith to continue to implement social-intervention programmes designed to protect and nurture the nation's children.
"I call on the women of faith in the Baptist Federation - and, in fact, all women of faith in Jamaica - to continue your good works and continue to share the light and love of the Master in all your communities and throughout all your various projects," she said.
Like the prime minister, the police have endorsed the gesture by the church to tackle issues affecting children.
"We all have a responsibility to protect our children and, at the moment, our focus is what can be done to prevent these heinous crimes against our children," said head of Area 4, Assistant Commissioner George Quallo, yesterday.
Among the police's plans this year for children is to continue to collaborate with the church and expand the annual summer programme.
"The church plays a major role every year, assisting us with our summer programmes for children. This year, we want to build their awareness because we are very concerned. The problem, though, is not just the crime being committed against children, but also those children who are the perpetrators of crime," said Quallo.
Pointing to a recent case, the senior officer explained that a 16-year-old, who is currently behind bars, is the prime suspect in the murder of 11-month-old Omar Lindo, who was shot and killed on Easter Monday, April 6, while at his Chancery Lane home in downtown Kingston. Young Lindo was one of two children shot during that incident. The other child was treated and released from hospital.
Child Month is observed annually in May. During this period, significant attention is placed on children. Since last month, a number of entities have launched programmes to highlight issues affecting children and, at the same time, celebrate our children's successes.