The view once held was that “children should be seen and not heard”, but of late that view has been abandoned since it was not in the best interest of the child. The Child Friendly Municipalities initiative was introduced in 2014 to ensure that children have a voice. In this regard, each municipality has a functional child advisory body to ensure that children issues are addressed. Kerry Belisle, Chief Executive Officer at the Ministry of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development spoke with Love News about where the municipalities are with this initiative.
Kerry Belisle – CEO, Ministry of Local Government: “The end goal or where we hope it would be is that by September 2018 we propose that we can have all municipalities across the country that are certified Child Friendly Municipalities and what is happening as we speak is that each municipality is adopting a strategic plan and that strategic plan outlines over the next three to five years where those municipalities will be headed, what kind of activities will be ongoing and what are the partnerships that are needed to achieve the Child Friendly Municipalities. Those strategic plans for each of those municipalities are being designed to act in concert with the broader child agenda 2017-2030 so that we feel fairly confident that by September of this year what we will have is a set of municipalities that have strategic plans that, that have at least some if not all the resources on board and awareness of what resources are required in order to actively pursue a path to child friendly environments. The long and short of it is that the municipalities have actively been engaging with children across the board, they have had clear outputs from the ideas that have been provided; there have been a series of trainings that have been conducted that include children and to a large degree parents speaking for instance to matters of how a child recovers after a tragic event like a natural disaster that kind of training has been ongoing with the municipalities to ensure that not only are the needs of children being addressed but also that we are actively working towards providing a safe space where children can develop- where there are adverse impacts to their development that we have a mechanism in place to try to mitigate those impacts.”