Palmdale Primary gets Pinwheel Garden as part of Child Protection Month activities

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Minister Myles LaRoda speaks with students at Child Protection Month planting of the Pinwheel Garden Ceremony (held Monday, April 15) at Palmdale Primary School.

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Government of The Bahamas is intent on maintaining safe environments in which children can thrive — free from all forms of abuse be it physical, mental, verbal and/or sexual, in addition to neglect, Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda said Monday.

Mr. LaRoda was addressing a Child Protection Month planting of the Pinwheel Garden Ceremony (held Monday, April 15) at Palmdale Primary School. The event was a collaborative effort between the School, the Child Protection Unit and Child Protection Month Committee of the Department of Social Services, the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Unit, and The Bahamas Social Workers Association. It took place in the school’s Reading Garden where students are encouraged to travel the world through reading.

Child Protection Month was launched earlier this month by Minister LaRoda under the theme: “One Nation United to Protect our Children: Moving from Challenge to Change” and is a collaboration between the Ministry, its Department of Social Services, and the SCAN Unit.

Minister LaRoda provided students participating in Monday’s ceremony with a brief overview on the establishment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which speaks to children’s rights to: Life, survival and development; the Right to healthcare; Protection from violence, abuse and/or neglect; the Right to an education that enables children to fulfil their potential; the Right to be raised by, or have a relationship with, their parents, and the Right to express their opinions and be listened to.

The Convention applies to everyone under the age of 18. Its aim is to ensure that children grow up in a spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity. The UNCRC was drafted in 1989 and is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

“What we have found in our country is that there has been an increase in abuse against women, but also children, particularly girls.  And so the Government of The Bahamas, along with Civil Society, the Church and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) constantly strive to make this country a better place for children to live, and to thrive in,” Minister LaRoda said.

“(In furtherance of that objective) an entire month is dedicated to the protection of children and the prevention of the abuse of children. Be mindful, however, that our efforts occur year-round.

“And so if you are, or if you have friends who are being subjected to abuse I want you to know that there are places you can go, people who you can trust (trusted adults) — whether it’s your teacher, parents, the Police, the Department of Social Services — so that none of you beautiful kids here this morning, or those throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, have to be subjected to abuse.”

Pinwheels serve as a reminder of the commitment to safe-guarding the innocence and well-being of every child, embodying the spirit of childhood – they spin freely, with joy, curiosity, and boundless energy and evoke memories of carefree days filled with laughter, innocence and wonder.

The Pinwheel’s constant motion symbolizes the momentum of the collective effort to prevent child abuse. It further serves as a reminder that societies must remain vigilant in their endeavors to protect one of its more vulnerable groups of persons – its children.

Moreover, the Pinwheel’s vibrant colours represent the diversity and resilience of children. Regardless of their backgrounds and/or circumstances, every child deserves to grow and thrive in an environment free from harm and fear.

“By displaying Pinwheel’s during Child Protection Month, we not only raise awareness, but also spark conversations about the importance of creating safe and nurturing communities for our children,” said Mrs. Ceonn Edwards, Guidance Counsellor at Palmdale Primary.

“Each Pinwheel planted serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us of our responsibility to take action and to make a difference. Let us pledge to keep the Pinwheels spinning, not just for this month, but every day of the year. Together, we can create a world where every child is cherished, protected, and given the opportunity to flourish.”

Miss Knastachia Cooper, BaSW, President of The Bahamas Social Workers Association, said the occasion provided the Association with another opportunity to fulfill its mandate.

“Our Association was officially formed in 2021 to spread awareness to the community that we, as social workers, are here to protect and serve our communities; to rebrand and to get more persons into the profession because it is an important profession, as well as to spread awareness about social issues that may be happening in our communities,” Miss Cooper said.

“Child Protection Month and the planting of Pinwheel Gardens play significant roles in helping to spread awareness throughout our communities about the dangers of child abuse and that, as one nation, we must come together to stop child abuse – hence our theme: ‘One Nation United to Protect our Children.”

School principal, Mr. Clinton Josey, said the event provided the school with yet another opportunity to have a positive impact on “the whole child.”

“When we are talking about the whole child, it is very important in this day and time, to talk about child abuse/child protection because if we want our children to learn, we need to know exactly where they are as it relates to their emotional scales etcetera,” Principal Josey said.

“To bring awareness to child abuse and child protection by sharing with our children what child abuse could look like, the examples thereof, and the approach they can take as it relates to being safe and reporting these matters is very, very important to us.”   (BIS Photos/Anthon Thompson)