Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Family, Irvine Best (right), Deputy Permanent Secretary, Yolande Howard (left), with the winners of the logo competition??Jamal Fields (second from left), Christopher Dyall and Carissa Lee. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Strong families are essential if Barbados’ development is to be sustainable.

This view was expressed today by Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Family, Yolande Howard, who said that the island would not survive in the 21st century and beyond if its citizens did not acknowledge that the ???hand of God’ was there to lift them up.

Mrs. Howard’s comments were made during a presentation ceremony for the winners of the Division of Family’s logo competition at the Ministry of Education, Elsie Payne Complex.

She told the small gathering: "Families are the building blocks of any nation and together as families we can change what is presently happening for the betterment of this and future generations and more importantly, for our children and young people."

Pointing out that families were being impacted negatively by a number of internal and external factors, she identified the global economic recession as one such issue. Mrs. Howard noted that the scourge of drugs, HIV and AIDS and gang violence had all taken their toll on families. "These factors, coupled with the cultural penetration of lifestyles that are not only foreign, but oftentimes objectionable, have corroded our Barbadian morals, mores and values.

"All these factors, while impacting on the entire population, have had the worst impact on our most impressionable, but most valuable resources, our young children and our adolescents," she maintained.

Mrs. Howard stressed that the Ministry of Family had developed a number of programmes to assist young people at every level of society. She highlighted the draft National Youth Policy which was recently handed over to the Minister as one such initiative.

"This document has allowed for the views and ideas of young people to be expressed in a formal, yet precise manner.

It is a document which every young Barbadian should read and I, therefore, encourage those of you here today who have not yet added your voice to the document, to share your thoughts by getting involved in the National Youth Forum," she suggested.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary assured her audience that the National Summer Camp Programme provided an excellent opportunity for young people to hone their skills as peer counselors and camp assistants.

She added that the Ministry was also addressing the needs of the parents and mentioned the Positive Parenting Skills seminars which are part of the Parent Education and Support Programme as one such project. She explained that parents were taught how to more confidently interact with their children, among other things.

Mrs. Howard commended the winners of the competition, stating that the entries were of a high standard and that it "was quite evident that serious thought went into the design of the logos".

Jamal Fields of the Lodge School won the competition, while his classmate Christopher Dyall placed second and Carissa Lee of the Barbados Community College copped the third prize.

The Division of Family was created in 2008 to, among other things, strengthen and empower families, give the necessary support either through education and training to parents to enhance their interaction with their children and build partnerships with bona fide stakeholders to improve the quality and timeliness of the services being offered to families.

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