“Is true! Sometimes we jump to conclusions and don’t listen to wi pickney dem!” This was
an “aha” moment expressed by one of the more than 240 parents and caregivers from upont
Primary School and the Cockburn Gardens Primary school in Kingston that recently benefited from a series of parenting sessions organised by the Ministry of National Security
and facilitated by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) and Parenting Partners Caribbean
Dr Deanna Ashley, Executive Director of the VPA noted that the initiative was timely, as the series of rap-sessions and participatory workshops allowed parents to learn and share,
especially as it related to their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Linda Craigie-Brown, president of PPC agreed, stating that many parents today are feeling
isolated and the sessions offered an opportunity to share and support each other, guided by
experienced parenting facilitators.
The parents of children from each school spent two hours per week and were engaged in
discussions and interactive activities focused on stages of child development, effective communication and healthy self-esteem.
Tamara White, a parent who participated in the workshops said, “I feel more appreciative of
the importance of parent and child communication and I know that my healthy self-esteem is
very important for my child’s development.” Parents were encouraged to seek the positives
in themselves and in their children and were ‘crowned’ with donated Burger King crowns as
they expressed their own self-worth.
Renee Steele, Senior Policy Director in the Crime Prevention and Community Safety branch
of the Ministry of National Security, said that despite the many challenges parents were facing, their feedback on the parent sessions had been very positive. “They were committed
to attending each week, and many parents showed great insight and knowledge about the
topics,” she said.
Mrs. Craigie-Brown was particularly pleased to see the eagerness the parents showed in
supporting each other, especially those experiencing personal trauma or emotional challenges. “Many parents offered very useful advice and counsel during the sessions, even
exchanging numbers afterwards. The parents themselves developed a ‘Parent Pledge’ which
they shared within their various WhatsApp groups,” she said noting that many asked for the
sessions to be continued.
However, both the PPC’s president and the VPA’s executive director agreed that short, one-
off sessions with parents is never enough or advisable. They acknowledged that as the
challenges affecting parents are definitely mounting, their coping mechanisms are wearing
“Some parents just need to vent; but others need ongoing counselling and other psychosocial interventions. We provided all participants with lists of helpline numbers; however, we know that our support resources and services continue to be overwhelmed and therefore need significant strengthening,” said Dr Ashley.
The parenting programme was a component of the Ministry’s 2020 “Liv Gud” summer school
which was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.