The following is an address by Hon. Jahnel Nisbett, Minister of Gender Affairs, on the occasion of International Day of the Boy Child 2023.
Since the year 2018, the world has paused and given special observance on May 16th, to celebrate International Day of the Boy Child. This year, the Department of Gender Affairs has organised a number of activities to recognise this day of significance under the theme: “Boys and Mental Health.”
Founder of this day, Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh underscored that “On the media, there are regular incidents in which young, misguided boys and teenagers are involved in crime and violence. If a boy child is neglected or fed a diet of hate and violence, it is obvious he will develop into a teenager who is misguided and confused. There is an urgent need to focus on the home and school in order to save the boy child."
This is why at the Department of Gender Affairs, Nevis, we have focused our efforts on shining a spotlight on positive role models in the form of boys and men.
Peer role models are recognised through the Boy of Excellence Awards annually, awarded to one outstanding male student in each of the public and private primary and secondary schools on the island. It is envisioned that this initiative motivates other young boys to emulate the positive characteristics of the awardees while underscoring the need for positive behaviour to be recognised as loudly as the negative is often reported.
The existing Boys Mentorship Programme also spearheaded by the Department of Gender Affairs, also see us using adult male role models to positively influence the boy child through mentor-mentee relationships; training and development sessions to support holistic growth; community service initiatives and other forms of positive engagement.
As we zero in on this year’s theme: “Boys and Mental Health”, a panel discussion comprising of both men and boys is scheduled for today; the aim of which is to openly discuss how mental health affects men and boys, signs and symptoms and coping mechanisms. Conversations such as this destigmatizes issues surrounding mental health, and provide critical insights to caregivers on how to recognise issues and seek early intervention.
On this International Day of the Boy Child, I urge everyone to pause and recognised the unique contribution of our boys to our homes, schools and wider community.
The boy child is positive!
The boy child is valued!
The boy child is celebrated!
Happy International Day of the Boy Child!
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