Features — 24 March 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie
Municipalities across Belize “recognize and honor our children”

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Mar. 18, 2016–Municipalities across the country held ceremonies throughout this week, vowing to be “sustainable and child-friendly municipalities.”

Today, it was Belize City’s turn to make such a vow and to recognize and honor our children. Usually, these official ceremonies don’t focus on children, but this one was especially was for these younger ones among us. It outlined the need for our children to have a voice in the community, of which they are a part.

Present at the launch were Mayor Darrell Bradley; Karen Bernard, UNDP (United Nations Development Program) Representative; Ivan Yerovi, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) Representative; Hon. Hugo Patt, Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development; and other stakeholders. Children from Grace Primary School and St. Mary’s Primary School also made presentations.

Bradley said that often times we see children as our future, but we must remember they are our present too, and so we must engage them from now through this initiative of making our municipalities child- friendly, which will give them a voice and a place in our municipalities. It will honor their accomplishments and cheer them on so that they can continue to accomplish great things in our society, Bradley said.

Bernard, in addressing the children, told them that it is not the norm for young people to speak up, since, “you have been taught that you should be seen and not heard;” however, she said to the kids, “it is your right to participate in decisions that affect you, since you are well-acquainted with these issues.”

Patt told the children that they have the full support of the Government of Belize and so the “possibilities are endless,” together with their creative minds. Patt added, “You must feel free to contribute and become excited about this unique opportunity to change, to create and to participate in the future of your beautiful city.”

Yerovi said that the ceremonies are being held in the different municipalities to recognize them as child-friendly, and the certification will come later.

“What today does is make municipal leaders, together with our central government partners, accountable to the highest ideals that have been exposed by United Nations documents signed onto by our country, which illustrates that we really want a society which recognizes the rights of our young people,” Bradley said, adding that, “Human development will be accomplished when we speak to the most vulnerable and to the least often heard in our society.”

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