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Screen_Shot_2016-03-17_at_8.13.31_PMThe Child Friendly Municipality Initiative, headed by the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), was created to promote and approve an international initiative aimed at confirming Mayors as Children’s Defenders.  The idea is basically to provide infrastructure, amenities as well as the proper environment for children to be free, healthy and well-informed of what is happening within the community.

The Orange Walk Town Council received the Child Friendly Municipality Award earlier this afternoon during a ceremony that was held at the Central Park where a number of invited guests were present. We spoke to the Minister of Labour, Local Government and Human Development, Hugo Patt, who expressed his views about the award itself and how pleased he is with the council for receiving such recognition.

Hugo Patt - Minister of Labour, Local Government and Human Development

“The award is basically as a result of one; the recognition and two the acknowledgement of the effort that this municipality has done in implementing the necessary steps to ensure that as a town and as a municipality they become certified under the Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipality that a joined effort has been done which includes an integral part of what the municipalities are. Any initiative that has to do with making our children have a safer and healthier environment and in making sure that we have the necessary tools and necessary infrastructure to develop our children I think that is the most important thing that as a country as leaders we can do and certainly embracing the Association of the Town Councils having them become a part and practically the implanting bodies of this program I think that it is an effort that as a team we have done together and we are here to express our utmost support to making sure that Orange Walk in itself become as the Mayor says probably the Town that will qualify and certify the on the first instance so I am grateful to be here as I say Orange Walk is part of the North, I am honored to be here with you guys and certainly the work that you guys have been doing is so tremendous and I applaud the work that you have been doing.”

And while municipalities throughout the country had signed up to be classified as a ‘Child Friendly Municipality’, Mayor Kevin Bernard stated that there was a specific criterion that needed to be followed in order to be eligible to receive the award.

Kevin Bernard – Mayor, Orange Walk Town

“It’s a great pleasure to have received the award and just like Orange Walk her all the municipalities that have signed up to be a Child Friendly Municipality there are certain things that we had to do to get to this stage, we had to ensure that one we prepare budgets for our children so that there are thing in the budget to cater to our young people, of course we had to set up the Child Advisory body and that has been working and I must commend the President and the team for the Child Advisory Body for the work that they have done the consultation that they have been doing so it is a great step I can tell you that as the Mayor I give my full support to this initiative and the council also gives its full support and speaking as well that as the Mayors Association level we of all signed on to this initiative and this is something that we believe that it is very positive so I must commend the people at UNICEF and UNDP and the local government for taking this initiative and us as Mayors for really taking on our wings and let us move with it and it is efforts that come from everybody that will make things like these fruitful and so definitely we at the Orange Walk Town Council will do our part to ensure that next year we can be fully certified as a Child Friendly Municipality.”

The council prepared a set of goals and objectives which included the well-being of children throughout the community in terms of the projects that were carried out.

Kevin Bernard – Mayor, Orange Walk Town

“Our goals was to ensure that we have our playground areas free of crime you know where there is accessibility for children with disability and Special needs, where there are safe environment in school zones we need to look at putting up pedestrian crossings in those heavy traffic areas in those schools as well we want to ensure that as a municipality we continue to champion the cause, there be educational opportunities for our young people that there will be help opportunities because they are the ones that will grow and move this nation and so we need to set that platform for them and they also in turn are once we have them involve, because the Child Advisory body is comprise of young people and once we have them involve they too can help in decisions.”

To date, 115 municipal areas (94 municipalities and 21 Municipal Districts) have declared themselves Child Friendly by a city council resolution in which they express the municipality’s willingness to work in favour of the rights of children and young people.

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