Children live what they see and hear; therefore, let our children hear that we celebrate them and they are the ???gems??? of our nation.

Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, expressed this view this morning while addressing those gathered at the Opening Gala Ceremony for Child Month, held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

???Too often our children are seen in a negative light. This is not a true picture of our children; we need to take time out and celebrate their positive contributions,??? he stated.

Mr. Blackett explained that over the years, the Child Care Board developed themes for child month which emphasised the role of the family and its connection with building strong children, and this year was no exception.

???The theme chosen for this year???s Child Month is Celebrate Children: The Gems of Our Nation, an extension of last year???s theme in that it speaks of valuing our children???This year???s theme has at its core how we should view our children and the value that we should place on them. We are saying to our children: You are our Gems, Our Precious Stones and Our Treasures,??? he stressed.

While Mr. Blackett believes that the family is the ???primary socialising institution???, he is also of the view that it was not solely the role of mothers and fathers to create an environment that would allow children to shine as gems, but all persons who hold significant value in a child???s life.

???Always remember this Chinese proverb which states ???A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark???, and also, remember that relationships are somewhat like a garden – without proper care and attention, the weeds take over,??? he advised.

The Social Care Minister further advised the adults gathered that love was ???a powerful force and it gives children a feeling of self-worth???, so it was their responsibility to inspire children by their attitudes, behaviours, speech and daily actions.

Before concluding his address, Mr. Blackett directed the remainder of his message to the ???gems of this nation???. He advised them to be honest, responsible, industrious and hardworking, and most importantly, to be courteous and respectful to all persons, regardless of their circumstances.

The Gala, which was hosted under the patronage of Governor-General, Sir Elliott Belgrave, also featured several performances by primary and secondary school children in song, dance, drama, as well as a motivational speech by Oriyon Morgan of the Seventh-Day Adventist Primary School.

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