82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, March 2, 2024


The new rule of thumb for communities that want their children to develop into healthy adults is to question everything they do or are planning to do from the perspective "Is it Good for Our Children"? If it does not pass this litmus test, then people with foresight either find a way to make it good for children or abandon the idea and look for another.
I think that Carnival should be put to this test also. We need to ask, is our Carnival celebration good for our children? I asked myself this and there are several areas that I feel could be made more child friendly.
I think we need to explore alternate times, and in some cases days/nights, when we schedule events that are of interest to children. Take the Junior Calypso Tent competition. This event is held on a school night and ends after the legal curfew of 10 p.m.. This year, I am told, it ended after 11p.m. Couldn't we find a night when there is no school the next day for this event? If the event must be held on a school night, couldn't we start it in the late afternoon?
I have a vested interest in this event. You see my daughter is fourteen and has never attended even one Junior Calypso tent. I want her to. I know she would enjoy it, but I am determined to continue making school her first priority and that does not include her being out on a school night when she has homework and early classes the next day. Besides, what about the contestants, don't we also want them to view school as their first priority? Should we as a community be comfortable with their being tired in school the next day?
Other events that attract young people should also be viewed in the context of whether it is good for our children or not, such as Panorama; can this too be held earlier?
Let us not forget the "Children's Carnival Village". I am told that my idea of banning adults, particularly males, from the Children's Village until 10 p.m. is unconstitutional, but what about creating a separate area for the games of chance that attract mostly adults. Could we not place the rides in one area and the games of chance in another?
The Childrens' Parade is another issue. This year, it was sad to see the little four-and-five year-olds wilt because the parade started two hours late. Even when it starts on time there is a significant wait in the staging area by the Waterfront and Franklin's Building. What are these kids to do about their bodily functions? They drink a lot because they are hot, but it naturally follows that they will have to go the bathroom. Would it be too much to ask that a couple of those portable toilets be placed in the staging area so they could take care of nature's calls appropriately? Do we really want them to be trained to urinate behind cars as they do now?
Other ideas that we might want to consider are creating a teen section in J'ouvert, rather than their commingling in the larger crowd. Sometimes I have seen unwanted adult male attention that some teens seem unable to avoid. I guess the remedy to that would be for all teens to be accompanied by responsible adults, but this is probably just on my wish list.
There are other aspects of Carnival that are really not child friendly, including allowing children/teen groups into the adult parade. I wish I could change many of them, but there is that Constitutional issue that keeps getting in my way. Let us advocate to make our next Carnival good for children, not just the adults. Let me be the first to say, Happy Carnival 2000!
Editors' note: Catherine L. Mills of St. Thomas, a former Human Services Commissioner, holds a master's degree in social work. You can send comments to her on the articles she writes or topics you would like to see addressed by sending your comments to source@viaccess.net

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