February 23, 2024

An advocacy group for children’s rights has assured children in Baguio City that the group as well as their parents are always there to help them and to keep them healthy, nourished, and sheltered.

In the recent culmination program of the National Children’s Month held at Session Road, Helping Hands, Healing Hearts Ministries head Gina Claire Henderson said children can expect that adults and parents are doing their best for the best interests of their children.

“You should be healthy, nourished, and sheltered. And if you are not, we are here to help. What can you do for yourself? You can study hard, you can love your family, you can respect your elders,” Henderson said.

She advised children to obey and res-pect their parents and guardians.

Addressing children in the audience during the program, Henderson said, “Sometimes, naiinis ka sa kanila (parents), but you know what, they are doing their best to try to make sure that all of your needs are met. As adults, we cannot promise that all of your wants are met, but we can assure you that all of your needs will be met. So let your parents know once in a while how much you appreciate them, how grateful you are,” she said.

She said things would work better if there is open communication and respect between parents and children.

“Yes, you’re the kids, we’re the adults. We are meant to be more mature, but there are times kami rin we also don’t know how to respond. We also don’t have the right answers, so be patient with us. But always know if you need to speak we are here to listen. Remember you have the right to be healthy, nourished and sheltered,” Henderson said.

Helping Hands, Healing Heart Ministries is a non-government organization for children in crisis situations who need a safe refuge, assistance, an intervention, trauma informed care, psychosocial support, medical help, and someone to advocate for their rights.

It believes children belong in families and works hard at family preservation whenever possible, and after exhausting every effort to keep a child in their biological family on kinship care, it supports adoption both domestic and international.

In his state of the children report during the same event, Mayor Benjamin Magalong reported that as of October 2023, the Local Civil Registry recorded 6,110 live births, 5,871 were born this year and 239 are late registrants compared to 6,919 live births in 2022.

Of the 5,809 eligible population for the zero to 12 months old; 2,697 (46.43 percent) were fully immunized in the 16 health centers and the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Under Five Clinic. 

Of the 266 recorded pregnant teenagers, 32 (12.06 percent) had two shots of tetanus toxoid before giving birth, for maximum health protection of the infants. Teenage mothers were given appropriate antenatal management for less health risks.

The city government has assured investments on and development of the basic education system for three to four-year-old children are implemented in 114 city-managed child development centers where 4,691 and 4,893 children were served in schools years 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, respectively.

The city government also spent P545,000 for supplementary feeding program.

For these projects, the city is given the PaNaTa ko sa Bayan Award and Gawad Paglilingkod sa Sambayanan.                      

Children with disabilities are catered to by the Persons with Disability Affairs Office of the City Mayor’s Office in partnership with other agencies.   

The Local Council for the Protection of Children and its barangay counterparts are partnering with various agencies including the Department of the Interior and Local Government for child-related policies, programs and projects at grassroots level.

Cases of child abuse, children in conflict with the law, and children at risk are brought into the attention of the proper offices. Interventions such as residential care, counselling, life skill sessions, and other forms of holistic rehabilitation including parenting sessions with capacity building are provided. 

The mayor said victims of abuse by family, strangers, and acquaintances are now being prioritized to establish res-ponsive mechanisms through intensified online awareness and a hotline.  – Hanna C. Lacsamana with reports from Julie G. Fianza