UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean


Caribbean Youth expressing themselves through art

© UNICEF/Neils/2008
Proud winners display their prizes: From left Visual Arts Chairman, Philbert Gagadhar, UNICEF Representative Johannes Wedenig and Comm. Officer Leslyn Thompson, winners Winston, Darlene and Jonathon, UNICEF’s Comm. Officer - T&T Ayanna Eastman

Georgetown, Guyana, August 28, 2008 – Caribbean imagery and creativity took center stage at the first ever CARIFESTA Children’s Art Exhibition and Prize Giving Ceremony earlier today as UNICEF rewarded three youths with computers for their efforts at creatively expressing their thoughts on life in the Caribbean.

Against the setting of the CARIFESTA Visual Arts Exhibit at the Gymnasium in Georgetown, three regional winners, 16 year old Winston Alexander from Guyana, Jonathan Jagdeo, 13 years from Trinidad and Tobago, and Darlene Dolabaille, 11 years old from Trinidad and Tobago, received prizes for their outstanding pieces which depicted Caribbean imagery including Caribbean flags, music, sport and dance. The pieces were all adjudged first in the 15-18; 12-14 and 8-11 categories respectively.

UNICEF in collaboration with the CARIFESTA Secretariat and the regional Ministries of Culture and Education coordinated the competition which invited children from 8 to 18 to express their creative abilities on various textures.

According to the Chief Judge of the competition, Mr. Alim Hussein, working under the theme, “ONE CARIBBEAN, ONE PURPOSE, OUR LIFE, OUR CULTURE the children created beautiful artistic works with a distinctive Caribbean flavour and expression.
 “Children need space to create and to develop in order to produce well rounded adults. We are all proud of our Caribbean children and creativity is one of the biggest export products for the Caribbean in terms of literature, music and art,” explained Mr. Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Representative, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr. Frank Anthony, Guyana’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport spoke of the partnership with UNICEF that facilitated the Children’s Art Competition and congratulated UNICEF together with the CARIFESTA Visual Arts team, while acknowledging the contribution of hundreds of children to the competition.

Minister Anthony also commended UNICEF for sponsoring the 420 meters of child art mural painted on the Georgetown Seawall.  He explained that it is the longest child art mural in the Caribbean that expresses children’s thoughts and feelings on life in their country and the Caribbean as a whole, and would hope that it finds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

© UNICEF/Neils/2008
Proud winners: from left Winston Alexander (Guyana) Darlene Dolaballie and Jonathan Jagdeo both from Trinidad and Tobago.

Also commenting on the children’s work on the seawall, Mr. Wedenig said he hoped the paintings would become a discussion point on the rights and responsibilities of children for parents and children who frequent the seawall as a place of relaxation.
The CARIFESTA Art Competition was hosted at both the national and regional levels and hundreds of children submitted entries focusing on the theme. The winning three entries from each category in the participating countries, specifically Belize, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago,   submitted their artwork to the CARIFESTA X Secretariat for regional judging. In addition to the regional first place winners, all artwork submitted by CARICOM countries have been mounted at a special Children Art Exhibition as part of the CARIFESTA X Visual Arts Exhibition.

The regional winners from Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago were overwhelmed and delighted to see their work on display for the entire world to see.  Moreso they were really proud to become owners of new computers.  Darlene from the 8 - 11 category received a desktop computer complete with accessories, while Jonathan and Winston from the 11 - 14 and 15 - 18 categories respectively both received lap top computers.

Eleven year old Darlene speaking about her experience of winning a prize gushed, “I am really happy about winning and the chance to take part in this competition. I will be on my new computer all day”. Darlene’s mother also added that this was the first time that her daughter had entered such a competition and she was really proud of her accomplishment.

In collaborating with regional governments, UNICEF continues to support youth expression and creativity and works towards the realization of children’s rights.  In this light UNICEF will also on Friday August 29, 2008 launch the I Meet UP interactive children’s website to encourage more creative express and heighten awareness on the Convention of the Rights of the Child for children of the region through the use of Information, Communication Technology (ICT).

For more information:
Leslyn Thompson, lthompson@unicef.org, UNICEF Guyana
Ayanna Eastman, aeastman@unicef.org, UNICEF Trinidad and Tobago


CARIFESTA is a celebration of the cultural diversity unique to the Caribbean. The festival is organized every two years in a different Caribbean country and brings together thousands of artists, performers and spectators from all over the Caribbean and the world. CARIFESTA aims to depict the life of the people of the Region, their heroes, morale, myth, traditions, beliefs, creativeness, and ways of expression. From 22-31 August, the festival will be organized in Guyana. During CARIFESTA, UNICEF will be supporting a number of activities focusing on children and adolescents.

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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