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The 18th Caribbean Child Research Conference recently took place in Antigua and Barbuda with Jamaican Abigay Dunkley, Vincentian Belle Adams, and Trinidadian Serenity Rampersad being awarded the top prizes.
The conference, held under the theme “A Safer Planet for Every Child”, saw hundreds of children participate virtually and in-person at the Five Islands Campus of the University of the West Indies from 29 to 30 November.
The event featured research, essay, and poster competitions that received a record 280 student submissions covering critical child rights issues such as mental health, violence, and climate change.
Dunkley won the top prize in the research competition for 15-17-year-old children with her paper on “The Dangers of social media on the safety of adolescent females in Jamaica”.
The second and third prizes were awarded to Danique Haughton from Jamaica and Razonique Looby of Antigua and Barbuda, respectively. Adams emerged as the winner of the essay competition with her composition titled “Our voice counts in addressing climate change”.
The second and third prizes went to Kezia Alexander of Grenada and Lynn Exume of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Rampersad won the poster competition, with Raiya Ramperine and Farayal Ali, both from Trinidad and Tobago, finishing in second and third place, respectively.
The conference also saw Caribbean young people engage in discussions around creating healthy school environments, protecting the rights of children with disabilities, and the state of education in the region.
In his feature address, UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean, Pieter Bult, shared that the region was lagging in its pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in areas like climate, poverty, and the protection of women and children.
However, he believes that many of these problems can be solved if adults listen to children and young people who have brilliant ideas about how to make progress.
The conference was rooted in the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Director General Dr Didacus Jules emphasized that children have a key role to play.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Education, Sport, and the Creative Arts, Daryll Matthew, acknowledged the contributions of youth activists and expressed the intention to promote further youth engagement by establishing national student councils at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.