Partners with Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians and the National Secretariat for Early Childhood Development to launch nationwide campaign
(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – In response to the escalating violence against children in recent years, Hemas Outreach Foundation (HOF)partnered with Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians and the National Secretariat for Early Childhood Development to launch the first-evernationwide campaign aimed at empowering and educating preschool children to safeguard themselves against abuse.
At a ceremony held at Temple Trees to mark World Children’s Day,under the patronage of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawarende,a poster, jingle and video was launched focused on providing an essential tool to protect and empower the youngest members of our society.
Around the world, awareness about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ has been cultivated among young children, and HOF is now bringing this crucial message to Sri Lanka. The program’s main goal is to educate children about what to do when confronted with abusive behaviour, safe and unsafe touches, going to a parent or another trusted adult if they are faced with an unsafe situation.
Speaking on the initiative, ShiromiMasakorala, Executive Director, Hemas Outreach Foundation and AYATI Trust Sri Lanka said, “We believe that empowering preschool children is crucial in preventing abuse. The jingle, accompanied by actions, will be incorporated into daily routines at all preschools to teach children how to respond in critical situations. Additionally, all 19,000 plus preschools across the country will display these posters, ensuring a visual presence. These communication materials have been thoughtfully developed in both Sinhala and Tamil to reach all communities.”
The catchy jingle and the informative video will equip preschool children with age-appropriate knowledge about their safety. The video, titled ‘A Lesson from Roshan Mama,’features renowned cricketer turned social worker, Roshan Mahanama sharing valuable guidance on how children can protect themselves from sexual abuse.The three key messages conveyed are to say NO to any unacceptable behaviour by an adult, to RUN, and to INFORM a trustworthy adult.
With violence against children having increased in the past few years, it is essential to take urgent action to protect preschool children who are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse due to a lack of awareness and knowledge.
The jingle will become a daily routine in all preschools, recited by the children themselves. Training sessions will also be conducted at the district level, involving all stakeholders, including preschool teachers, Early Childhood Care and Development officers, and parents.
“By providing them with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves, we can empower and create a safer environment for all children. We are deeply grateful for the guidance and support of our partners to ensure our youngest and most vulnerable members of society can stand up against abuse,”Masakorala added.
Prof. Asvini D. Fernando, Chairperson of the Child Protection Committee of Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians (SLCP) stated, “The message developed by the members of the Child Protection Committee of the SLCP was much needed due to the alarming increase in the number of reported cases of violence against children in the country. It is crucial that we implement programs to empower children to safeguard themselves. As Paediatricians, we have over the years witnessed various forms of violence against children, and firmly believe that prevention can be achieved through education. We have thoroughly examined global programs and have produced this jingle, poster, and video after careful analysis of the need. We also emphasize the importance of age-appropriate communication and are pleased that the Hemas Outreach Foundation stepped forward to develop this much-needed material together with the CPC of the SLCP, to empower the lives of children commencing from the preschool years.”
The Hemas Outreach Foundation is a charitable trust established under Hemas Holdings PLC. The foundation has been leading the group’s efforts to enrich lives through transformative social responsibility. Its mission is to create an inclusive world where no child is left behind by providing world-class pre-school education and high-quality therapeutic intervention to differently-abled children, while eradicating stigma related to disabilities.
HOF is dedicated to Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) in Sri Lanka through its ‘Piyawara’ program, conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs since 2002. With 63 ‘Piyawara’ preschools currently operational across the country and more in the pipeline, holistic development in young children is a cornerstone of this program. To-date the Foundation’s collective efforts have positively impacted more than 100,000 lives of children and families across the country. It is managed by an eminent board of trustees and audited by EY Sri Lanka.