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As the Special COHSOD on Children continues, CARICOM leaders urged by Youth Journalists of the Caribbean to ACT not just TALK

© Natasha Ikoli, UNICEF, NY
Children of the Caribbean speak out. Kiana Wilburg, 15 (Guyana), Mikhail Passee, 17 (Trinidad and Tobago) and Genelva Krind, 16 (Suriname) addressing the CARICOM leaders.

Georgetown, Guyana, March 18th, 2008 - Child journalists from the Caribbean showed their video production skills on Tuesday 18th, as they challenged Caribbean delegates at the CARICOM’s Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) meeting “to start acting and not just talk”.  The second day of meetings continued with a 15-minute youth news bulletin and a compilation of one minute videos presented to the delegates on issues related to adolescents development. This 2nd special session on children was convened in Georgetown, Guyana to discuss the many issues that challenge Caribbean children: Early Childhood Development, Child Protection, HIV and AIDS, and Infant and Maternal Mortality.

Part of Tuesday afternoon was given over to young journalists from Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago who presented the conference with an interesting and informative range of video work, produced solely by children, using new technology called The Digital Playground. The easy-to-use, computer-based system allows even those people with basic computer skills to make professional quality videos of one minute duration. Working with just a digital camera and a lap top, each one minute video had to have been completed within a one hour period with no input for professionals.  The 15 minute newscast was also developed in the “media lab” set up at the conference venue to accommodate the youth journalists during the three days of meeting.

The youth news cast examined issues of corporal punishment, child labour and the provision of basics services for children with specific reference to accessing quality education from the nursery level.  Delegates from the member states were also treated to a series of the one minute videos produced by young people, covering issues that mattered most to themselves: juvenile marriage (moral: Youth is a time for education not adult issues); teenage pregnancy; equal and easy access to health services; child sexual abuse and protection. Many of the presentations received generous applause from the highly-impressed delegates.

© UNICEF Guyana/2008
Youth journalists in preparation for the production of Youth News bulletin

The timing of this special session on children is considered especially significant as the world has just passed the halfway point to 2015, the target date set for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For the CARICOM region, it is now time to assess what progress has been made in achieving the MDGs, and in ensuring that the rights of children, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, are supported by legislation, and implemented in member states of CARICOM.

As the special session heard on Monday, the region faces formidable problems. Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean told delegates that the Caribbean region has the world’s highest rate of homicides among 15-17 year olds; girls are often the victims of sexual violence, partly contributing to Latin America and the Caribbean having the world’s second highest teenage pregnancy rate; the region also presents 42 per cent of the world’s gun homicides.

Living in this reality, as the next generation, it is today’s children who are calling for the changes they say are needed to reverse these statistics and improve their lives. In a statement read by children at the` start of the conference, the young people called on today’s government leaders to trust them as young people and give them the power to be the change they want to see in the world: and they will not disappoint them.  As they approached the end of the meeting, the children called on the CARICOM delegates to start acting and not just talk, to provide the safe and protective environment all children need in order to grow into secure and socially productive adults.

The meeting will conclude on Wednesday, March 19th.

For further information
Leslyn Thompson, lthompson@unicef.org, Tel.  623 7056, UNICEF Guyana

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About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

 

 
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