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Friday, 15 December 2023

Children org in Caraga taps schools on rights, mental health of learners

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

As suicide incidents among children and youth has become rampant in the different parts of the Caraga region, the Caraga Children Advocates Network also known as Caraga C.A.N. continued its mission to promote child welfare by initiating the conduct of the ‘Makabatang EduAKSYON program,’ at the different elementary and high schools of which the latest was at the Aurora National High School in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

According to Wilcriz Yungod, the newly-elected executive director of Caraga C.A.N, this program aims to raise awareness about the four core rights of children – survival, development, protection, and participation; the annual celebration of National Children's Month every November, and the Makabata Helpline should they need someone to share their sentiments, problems, and issues and concerns.

“Children are vulnerable, sensitive and easily exposed to potential risks around them. And with the issue of mental health nowadays, we have to do our part and protect our children from anything that can harm them. We have to guide them so that they become better citizens in the future, away from engaging in any illegal activities,” Yungod emphasized.

He added that the campaign involved series of activities, such as the conduct of seminars, workshops, and consultations, as well as the use of various channels such as social media and traditional outlets to reach a wider audience. 

“This campaign was conducted in various schools in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, with primary students as the target audience. The campaign promoted the four core rights of children, which are the right to survive, the right to develop, the right to be protected, and the right to participate,” he said.

With their latest activities in Prosperidad, other partner stakeholders also took active part in intensifying the information drive in the different schools.

Under the guidance of School Head Admondro Olavides and Supreme Secondary Learner Government (SSLg) adviser Cher Jess Castro Vales, around 50 SSLG and classroom officers participated in the program. They gained valuable insights on the importance of safeguarding their rights and protecting themselves from harm.

“We really appreciate the effort of the Caraga CAN along with other partner agencies in the government, for their mindfulness and concern to the school children. Through the different activities that they conduct in schools, students are able to learn and increase their awareness on the importance of life and personal growth,” underscored Olavides.

The event was further enriched by the presence of Police Staff Sergeant (PSSg) Janice Mercado from the Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD) - Prosperidad. She engaged the participants in a discussion about the difference between safe touch, unwanted touch, and unsafe touch, shedding light on prevailing issues such as teenage pregnancy that can adversely affect children's rights.

“It is important that our school children are equipped with this knowledge, so they would be able to determine the potential risks that can harm them and be able to protect themselves, because violence and abuse happen everywhere,” cited Mercado.

About the Caraga CAN

The Caraga Children Advocates Network is a non-profit organization in the Caraga region that works towards promoting the rights and welfare of children.

It is committed to empowering the children and ensuring that their rights are upheld. Through its Makabatang EduAKSYON program, the organization is reaching out to communities across the region, fostering a culture of child protection and advocacy.

The campaign aims to promote the rights of children and protect them from child abuse and violence. The information drive is conducted year-round and is geared towards students and individuals in the province of Agusan del Sur, and will be replicated to other parts of the region. 

As member of the RCWC

This children's organization is also recognized as a partner by the Regional Committee for the Welfare of Children (RCWC) chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga. 

Jessie Catherine Aranas, chief of the protective services division of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga, recognized the Caraga C.A.N. as hands-on advocates as they voluntarily initiate various relevant programs for the children down to the grassroots level. 

“Since the Caraga CAN has been part of the RCWC, this organization has already reached different communities and imparted significant information about the promotion and protection of the rights and general welfare of the children, as well as its network and partnerships with other stakeholders in fulfilling their goals. We, in the RCWC, hope that this initiative on Makabatang EduAKSYON program will be sustainable for years,” shared Aranafor. (JPG, PIA-Caraga/Caraga CAN)