By anguillian October 26, 2012 10:57



Personnel from the Anguilla Government, the Governor's Office, the Departments of Social Development and Education

The Department of Social Development is continuing its successful initiative of bringing  families in Anguilla into a closer relationship. This is occasionally being done by having them spend quality time in retreats engaging in a variety of activities and, where possible, in a remote but serene environment. The programme, an undertaking by the staff of the Department of Social Development, is called “Bridging the Gap”.


The latest programme, a “Parent-Child Retreat”, was held last weekend at the Anguilla Great House at Rendezvous Bay and in attendance were eighteen participants, with children ranging from 10-14 years. “During this weekend you will reflect on the time spent with your children and how to enhance parent-child relationships,” Director of Family and Social Services, Mrs. Daphne Hodge, said at the opening ceremony on Friday, October 19. “I encourage you to absorb every moment and continue to practice this at home – and share the information with other parents to benefit from this experience.


Staff members at the Department of Social Development

“There is a link between investment in children and their wellbeing in development. We can therefore never engage in too much time to devote personal care, reading, conversing, teaching, playing and travelling with our children. I challenge parents to integrate every opportunity today to build the esteem of your children and reap the rewards of their success tomorrow.”


Commissioner of Social Development, Sanford Richardson,explained that the “Bridging the Gap” project was launched in 2008 on the grounds of the General Post Office and was followed by a retreat at the Anguilla Great House. Eleven fathers accompanied by their sons, 8-14 years, attended and the event was a resounding success. In 2009 another eleven participants attended, and the venues were the Soroptimists’ Conference Room and the Teachers’ Resource Centre. There was no overnighting at the Great House.


Fathers and children at the retreat

“We are back this year, thanks especially to the Governor’s Office the main sponsor for this weekend’s retreat,” Mr. Richardson continued. “There are three major differences this year: for the first time, mothers and daughters are included in the programme; secondly, instead of father and son retreat, it is now the parent-child retreat; thirdly, the programme is a full day longer than in previous years. The programme remains under the patronage of the Hon. Deputy Governor, Stanley Reid.”


Hon. Edison Baird

Minister of Social Development, the Hon. Edison Baird, welcomed the initiative saying its importance could not be over-emphasised. “Today marks a new chapter in the life of the Department of Social Development with the staging of the 2012 version of “Bridging the Gap”, he said. “It is a bonding experience for fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.” The Minister stated that the retreat had come at a time when the very existence of the family as a unit in society was under threat; when both adults and youth were turning too often to violence to solve differences; and when parents and children differed over almost every conceivable matter.


“Too many of our young men occupy our prison walls,” he went on. “Many claim the absence of a father is primarily to blame. But based on our CSEC results this year, our young men are rebounding academically. All is not lost. I commend the many mothers and fathers who take their responsibility seriously and parent their children through word and action.


“The overarching theme of the retreat, “Bridging the Gap”, not only implies, but states that there is a gap, a divide, an opening in the parent child relationship. This gap needs to be closed…if our families and society ought to survive…Through your participation and experience in this retreat, strong parent-child relationships will be made stronger. Shaky ones will be strengthened and where the relationship is almost non-existent, bonds and bridges will be built.”


Mr. Baird added that the outcome of such an activity would be seen and felt in many years to come.  He looked forward to improved relationships between parents and their children; increased participation by parents, especially fathers, in activities involving their children; a reduction in incidents of antisocial behaviour among the island’s youth; a decrease in parent-child conflicts; an increase in numbers of self-confident young boys and girls and empowered parents; and an established support system for children and parents.


Mr. Baird commended the staff of the Department of Social Development for organising such an important retreat and for their hard work and planning.


Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism, Haydn Hughes, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development, Dr. Bonnie Richardson-Lake, and Chief Probation Officer, Mrs. Jocelyne Johnson Carty, were among those who attended the opening ceremony.


By anguillian October 26, 2012 10:57


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