Olympic champion goes back to school for every child
Jamaica’s two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has joined the Child Health Initiative (CHI) calling for a safe journey to school for every child worldwide.
The campaigning in Jamaica follows initial work by the CHI, UNICEF, the Jamaican government and key NGO partners, particularly the Jamaica National Foundation, to protect children on the journey to school.
The Olympic sprint champion and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador took part in campaign filming at her old school, Wolmer’s Girls High School in March. Joining the CHI’s ‘Every Journey, Every Child’ campaign she said: “I’m calling for action for children in Jamaica and all around the world. As a basic right, every child should be able to get to school safely. When I look back on my journey to school, I realise how lucky I was to have been kept safe and not suffered harm. I was able to grow-up safely, become independent and realise my dreams.
“Now as a young mother, I want to see my little one grow-up in a safer world. We’re making a start here in Jamaica. The work being carried out around our schools by the Child Health Initiative, UNICEF and its partners in Jamaica will be vital for keeping our kids safe. And worldwide, we’re urging leaders to prioritise young people’s rights to a safe and clean environment. Every child should be protected and every journey they make must be safe one.”
With road traffic injury the leading killer of children aged 5-14 in Jamaica, the FIA Foundation and its Child Health Initiative partners have established programming focused on safe journeys to school in the country.
Technical assistance from the Amend NGO and the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) has been provided to UNICEF and the Jamaica National Foundation its main NGO partner. Using its experience working in sub-Saharan Africa, Amend has helped train partners in Jamaica to carry out school area road safety assessments and design interventions to reduce risk and address road traffic injury. iRAP has provided training on its ‘star rating for schools’ methodology to improve the safety of the road network around schools.
Among a range of public agencies and organisations other key partners include the National Road Safety Council, the Ministry of Education and the National Works Agency. Two schools are providing the focus on initial work: Denham Town Primary in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Kingston; and Hazard Primary near May Pen, in Jamaica’s Clarendon Parish.
FIA Foundation Deputy Director Avi Silverman said: “Jamaica is at the forefront of the effort to provide every child with a safe and healthy journey to school. For several years Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price has been championing children’s rights with UNICEF and she has joined the Child Health Initiative in making a powerful call for action. Campaigning with her, it’s clear how passionate she is about the children at her own school, the young people of Jamaica and those around the world. The message from Shelly-Ann and the children we are working with in Jamaica and around the world is clear: policy-makers need to do far more to protect young people from the dangers of road traffic. There’s simply no excuse for inaction.”
UNICEF Jamaica Education Specialist Dr. Rebecca Tortello said: “Every child has the right to get to and from school safely. In coalition with the Child Health Initiative and a range of key partners in Jamaica we’re working hard to uphold these rights, to address child road traffic injury and provide a safe environment for children. Shelly-Ann is a powerful spokesperson for our work and we’re proud that she is helping to lead this important initiative.”
As a UNICEF Jamaica Goodwill Ambassador, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has been campaigning on child rights since 2009 with her work focusing on education and early childhood development. She first joined the FIA Foundation in its campaigning in 2013 joining the call for road safety to be included in the Sustainable Development Goals.