Caring for children is not only the female???s responsibility; men can do it as well.

So says Social Worker and Facilitator of the St. James??? South Basic Caregivers Course, Barbara Arthur.

She made these remarks yesterday during a media briefing at an informal ceremony which marked the end of the course at the Haynesville Community Outpost in St. James.

The project was coordinated by the Youth Development Programme of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth in collaboration with the St. James South Constituency Council.

Ms. Arthur explained there was a need for men to know that caring is not just a female???s responsibility. ???Barbados now has to embrace differences and different cultures??? One of the reasons why we focus on having men in the course is [so that] we can break that gender mould [and encourage] more males into the arena of child care,??? she said.

The three-week intensive workshop catered to 15 participants: 13 females and two males. It focussed on child development and hygiene, play, cognitive development, stimulation, environmental hygiene, safety, child abuse recognition and protection, nutrition and cultural dietary habits, among other related topics.

The Basic Caregivers Course was designed to equip members of the community with the skills to provide babysitting, specialised nanny or child management services to West Coast Hotels and Villas.

According to Ms. Arthur this project is two-fold. ???Phase one is about training, giving the participants the skills they need and the theoretical background. The second phase is for them to implement theory into practice by offering employment within the hotel industry,??? she explained.

The Social Worker noted that seven students were being placed in nurseries while four students were accepted at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic to pursue further studies in Child Care Management.

Adding that conducting the workshop in the community was a good initiative, she said: ???My hope is that we can raise the bar in the community so that people can actually take responsibility for their own learning. Some of the students have shown great potential… We need some positive role models within the community, some people who can say, ???I can do this??? or ???I have done it?????? My hope is that at least 80 per cent will be in work or in full-time employment by at least the end of the year.???

She continued: ???One of the things I am very clear about is that the skills are transferable. This course is about individuals and families; it???s also about personal development. The participants will always have this knowledge??? what they have been taught can be implemented in their own homes and as parents…. It is [also] about raising the bar on what we deem to be ???good enough parenting???. I am not saying better or worse, I am saying good enough, because you can only do good enough with the tools you have available.???

R??sum?? writing was another component of the course, and Ms. Arthur explained that she worked with the students to teach them how to market themselves.

Participant and after-school child care facilitator, Linda Bowen, praised the course and described the r??sum?? development module as being beneficial.

???That really helped me because I have done a lot of work in child care and Ms. Arthur showed me which skills and experiences that I should include on my r??sum??,??? the 47-year-old mother of three said.

She added she had already began implementing what she at learnt with her children and her after-school care group at the Good Shepherd Primary School.

In addition, 23 year-old Kevin Benskin stressed that as a male participant, the programme helped to raise his self-esteem and widen his knowledge about the expectation of parents, interaction between children, and how to work with children of different ages.

He stressed that men could play a critical role in child development, adding that he saw his role as important in breaking the perception that only women and older persons could care for children. Furthermore, he said would be implementing what he learnt during the course while on his job attachment.

Youth Development Officer for St. James South, Peter Skeete, said that the Basic Caregivers Course was very useful, since some of the participants were counsellors in the National Summer Camp Programme and volunteers in Cultural and Sports clubs in the community.

???This knowledge will help them to access employment opportunities and put them in leadership positions in their homes and communities,??? Mr. Skeete noted, adding the Ministry and the Constituency Council hoped to stage another workshop next year.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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