Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Be the change! St Thomas group seeks to tackle child abuse

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2015 | 9:00 AM
Members of Be the Change Foundation.
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MORANT BAY, St Thomas:

A group of young people has decided to take a stand and 'Be the Change' they want to see in Jamaica. Forming a foundation around their mission, the activists' main focus at this point is child abuse.

Originator of Be the Change Foundation, Monique Mitchell told Rural Xpress that she identified that there was a lapse in the system and many children were silently suffering from abuse. She knew she had to do something about it, so she began seeking volunteers who are passionate about making a change.

Under the theme: 'Break the Silence: Uncover the Abuse', their initial campaign hopes to educate the communities in St Thomas about the definition of child abuse, what constitutes child abuse, measures to take if they, or someone they know, is being abused and, ultimately, ways in which they can prevent the mistreatment.

"Though the foundation is island-focused, our first campaign will be done here in St Thomas and we hope that it will impact the rest of Jamaica," said Mitchell, who revealed that her interest in making a change stemmed from her own childhood.

"I was abused at a young age and I realised that it had taken a toll on my life. The fact that no one else knew about it drove me crazy. I kept gravitating to the wrong things, but then I realised that overcoming my fear of the abuse would allow me to be a better person. It also led me to realise that a lot of people need to know that it wasn't their fault that they were abused or had a terrible childhood, so it makes no sense they beat up themselves about it for the rest of their lives," she said, adding that those abused need help and guidance.

And thus, the foundation was formed.

Though the official launch date for Let's Be The Change Foundation is set for December 12, Mitchell said a meeting was recently held in an attempt to recruit volunteers for the movement. The campaign, she said, is going well so far.

social media

"We have a few dedicated team members and volunteers. So far, we've been flooding social media with pictures we've been taking for the campaign. The pictures are of us covering our eyes and mouth to signal the abuse and break the silence, respectively," Mitchell said.

According to her: "Starting next week (this week), we'll be going into the schools and various communities to host presentations on child abuse. The public needs to hear us."

Rasheda Rodney-Samuels, the event manager of the foundation, told Rural Xpress that they are now in the process of seeking sponsorship to fund the various campaigns.

"We're not only asking for their money, but we also need their involvement. We don't want to just have community members involved to give people the idea that this will only last for a couple of months. When we have the various businesses and government entities on board, then it becomes more noticeable," she said, advising that this will cause the campaigns to cover a larger population, thus influencing more feedback and results. Volunteers are still being asked to reach out.

rural@gleanerjm.com