Build a better future for our children

“Be the change you want to see in Bermuda and help to build a better future for our children.”

This is the inspiring message of a hard-hitting campaign being launched today by Family Centre.

The charity hopes the “Change Starts With Me” initiative will encourage the public to think about how we can make a difference in the lives of young people by making simple changes in the way we think and behave.

The campaign aims to be a “wake-up call” that urges residents to acknowledge that we cannot ask others to be the best person they can be if we do not do the same ourselves.

“The campaign will begin by sharing the stories of local individuals who have made ordinary changes in their own lives that had a profound impact on those around them,” Martha Dismont, Family Centre’s executive director, said.

“Every society has a responsibility to examine the culturally and socially permitted forms of emotional neglect of children that they silently inherit from their traditions and past generations.

“Emotional neglect leaves many children in a position where they lack the confidence to develop in healthy ways.

“That leads to a lack of self-worth, making them vulnerable to drop out (lacking the confidence to overcome obstacles), teen pregnancy (seeking the unconditional love of an infant), gangs (seeking the acceptance of a peer group), addiction (self-medicating pain and despair) and crime (finding alternative means of income and being easily manipulated by others with bad intent).

“We want to sound a wake-up call to Bermuda that the needs of children are often unmet — regardless of one’s socio-economic background. Parents typically act in subconscious ways that reflect their own upbringing and the norms of their culture — both family and general culture. This means that negative and positive norms are self-perpetuating.”

A priority of the campaign will be to challenge adults to devote more time, attention and respect to children, and to influence the way adults speak, think about and relate to children.

“We hope that people will see the endless opportunities to invest in more nurturing approaches to providing guidance, support and role modelling as the things that will determine the choices and future direction of children and youth,” Mrs Dismont said.

“We will never turn around gang, drug and school-performance problems by blaming kids. We can change it all by giving them something better to live for.”

Family Centre is an internationally accredited Bermuda charity that provides support to children who are affected by abuse, neglect and other emotional challenges through counselling and prevention initiatives.

Dr Sandy DeSilva, the charity’s director of services, said the community could be a significant contributor in helping children as well as working as a driver of change.

“In our work with families, we see how difficult it is to truly change behaviours that were learnt in childhood and were passed down through generations,” she said. “Our client families are courageous people who have taken on the challenge of looking at themselves and where their own behaviours, beliefs and practices may be compromising the healthy development of their children.

“The community has a huge impact on people as they try to make change. When our beliefs and comfort zone mirror our peers and family members, it is nearly impossible to take a stand for something new and alternative, even if we know we must.

“We owe it to those families to encourage the larger community to participate in changes that will allow us to take a collective leap toward new parenting and childcare norms that better respond to the needs of children and young people who are finding their identity and purpose in the 21st century.”

“Change Starts With Me” will feature at a social services convening on a National Children’s Agenda of Priorities on November 20, the United Nations’ Universal Day of the Child.

The campaign will also reach the community through public dialogue, events and activities that aim to get residents involved and to encourage them to help one another to take the challenge to “be the change that starts the change”.

Residents who have made changes are also sharing their own stories, such as a former prisoner who turned his back on a life of crime.

The initiative has been developed with the donated creative support of RBK Advertising and Design, and support has been provided by The Royal Gazette and HSBC.

“We have supported Family Centre for many years and we share their vision of a healthy society rooted in healthy childhood and strong families,” said Judy Doidge, corporate secretary for HSBC and executive representative for its partnership with Family Centre. “HSBC is supporting Family Centre’s Homework Academy, Parent Education Workshops and Family Forum programmes and as part of the HSBC staff volunteer community action day programme. HSBC employees regularly volunteer to help students in the Homework Academy programme.

“The ‘Change Starts With Me’ campaign has a great message that calls upon all of us to do better and we are pleased to be able to help in delivering this important message to everyone in our community.”

For more information about Family Centre, visit

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Published Nov 3, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 3, 2014 at 12:14 am)

Build a better future for our children

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