Saturday 23 March, 2019

350 people participate in National Symposium on the Family

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) hosted an Inaugural National Symposium on the Family on Wednesday and Thursday.

The symposium took place from 8 am to 4 pm at the University Inn and Conference Centre, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. The Theme for the National Symposium was “Supporting Families as the Bedrock of Society”.

The objective of the National Symposium was primarily to provide a forum for stakeholders to contribute towards the development of a Green Paper on the Family for Trinidad and Tobago on one hand and also facilitate the sharing of information, building of knowledge and the creation of established networks to foster healthy family life and well-being in Trinidad and Tobago. 

In attendance at the official opening ceremony on day one of the Symposium, were Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) Ayanna Webster-Roy, Administrator at the THA’s Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development, Dianne Baker Henry and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Natasha Barrow, as well as Keynote Speaker Professor Rhoda Reddock who presented on the Symposium theme: “Supporting Families as the Bedrock of Society.”

During her feature address, Minister Crichlow-Cockburn welcomed the audience to the first of what is expected to be an ongoing initiative of the Ministry, that is, a national discussion on the issue of the family.

“Regardless of the definition of an ideal family structure, if such structure does exist, I believe we all agree that the family is where we are exposed to our first and innermost lessons and learnings which inform our values attitudes and behaviours and ultimately shape our personalities as adults” Minister Crichlow-Cockburn said.

The Minister also indicated to participants that the government is cognizant of the significant role of the family and has accepted and clearly articulated in the Vision 2030 Development Strategy that the family is the foundation of the society and contributes to its growth development and stability. The hosting of this Family Symposium is therefore indicative of the government’s desire to ensure that each family is equipped with the necessary tools and has access to social programmes and services that enable constructive growth.

Webster-Roy, during her remarks, told the audience that as Minister of State with responsibility for Gender and Child Affairs, and on a personal level as a working wife and mother of three small children, she fully understands and appreciates the importance of family.

Meanwhile, Baker-Henry told the audience that the family is the most basic social institution and primary socialising agent.

The inaugural event was also marked by a dramatized presentation by DMAD Company entitled “Mammy Mammy”. Also providing edutainment at the event was Idrees Saleem who delivered a very appropriate and thought-provoking spoken word piece.

The Symposium was attended by over 350 participants, comprising representatives from Government Ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, faith-based and community organizations, NGOs and the business community. 

Several members of the public including teachers, students and interest groups were also present. The event also attracted over 14 exhibitors which ranged from UNICEF, ChildLine and Lifeline, to the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Village and Community Councils (TTAVCC) and BOMA-TT.


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