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BOBIE-LEE DIXON

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For their advocacy work in the area of child rights, seven of the nation’s children were recognised and awarded special prizes yesterday at the prize-giving and award ceremony of the Child Right Ambassadors Programme.

Among the young awardees, both male and female, recognised in special categories, some would have now even earned a seat on the T&T National Child Policy Child Committee.

Making T&T and the Caribbean proud, 2020 Unicef Youth Advocate, 14-year-old Priyanka Lalla, who was also in attendance, receieved a special award for becoming the first UNICEF global youth advocate from the eastern-Caribbean.

The seven recipients rose to the top out of 72 participants who entered the Government’s 2020 edition of its Child Rights Ambassadors Programme.

A strategy it highlights on its Facebook Child Rights Ambassadors page was created to “provide a platform which allows children to be ambassadors for their rights through educating peers and adults on the rights of the child and accompanying responsibilities.”

Minister in the Office of The Prime Minister, charged with the responsibility of Gender and Child Affairs, Ayanna Webster-Roy, during her address, congratulated all participants and awardees, saying they all represented beating the odds as they would have undertaken the challenge during the pandemic, which showed a new generation, driven by passion, commitment, and integrity.

She told the youth ambassadors that while it may not be an easy task for them, at the same time they ought not to take the opportunity for granted, as they were now representing the voices of children who otherwise do not have the chance to sit around the table.

Webster-Roy said, “At The Office of The Prime Minister we are trying to ensure to put in place policies and projects to benefit our children. But as minister with the responsibility, one of the things I would have always advocated for, while we are doing the work for children, we must ensure that the voices of our children are accounted for…that you have an opportunity to contribute. And that is why it is so important that as part of our implementation of a national child policy, we have a committee of young persons who would lend to the conversation and lend to the implementation.”

Responding to recipients’ call for society to rebuild the institution of the family,Webster-Roy said she felt comforted and was committed to strengthening that institution.

“I recognised that our boys and our girls understand the value of the family unit. And that is where we are failing in Trinidad and Tobago right now…the breakdown of the family as an institution. And I want to give you that commitment that as a policy make, as an advocate, as a representative, as a parent, whatever I can do in my own power to strengthen families and to promote family life, we will do that because we understand…I understand how important it is to you our young people, “she vowed.

The minister pledged her Government’s commitment to ensuring the right resources were in place to empower the nation’s boys and girls and more importantly to ensure they were a part of a system that acknowledges them.