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Our Children First Congress Published: Sunday, October 5, 1997 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Competitiveness is among other things about healthy, mindcrafting and about acknowledging the value of robust mental content as it will relate to the human potential capacity of producing goods and services. The competitive society must now base its future on investing in the development of its most precious resources, our children...

Last week we had the profound privilege of actively participating on Our Children First Congress. It is a very comprehensive government policy and strategy to guarantee that all children and adolescents have the opportunity to achieve complete physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and moral development in a positive and nurturing environment.

Children constitute the potential platform of our intellectual capital base. Thus, when talking about competitiveness we have to realize that we are all responsible for addressing their rights, needs and opportunities for development. We are referring about a concerted action of all sectors of society as the families, schools, churches and social institutions plus the communities, central and municipal governments and business organizations to attend such a formidable challenge and quest.

Warning signs, such as dysfunctional homes, poor ethical values, school drop-outs, drug and alcohol use and abuse, child abuse, and other problems are departing conditions for developing coordinated and integrated programs directed at boosting children and youth self-esteem. The idea is to foster collective effort for teaching them about, and equip them with, the necessary skills for social interaction and cognitive performance, so that they may resist pressure from an environment sometimes plague with dangerous problems and threats.

Recognizing that our children represent the human capital of the future, the purpose of Our Children First Congress is to create a sustained interorganizational structure to take action that will foster a healthy childhood; an excellent education; constant support from parents, government and every community institution; a safe environment for their development; access to sport and recreation; cultural appreciation; and opportunities for work experience and personal development. The aim is to prepare children and youth in an integrated manner for the huge challenges they will face in a different and changing world. This most important venture represents the essence of the work, Shadow of Influence, making a strong and practical case for the argument that:

  • Children Live As They Learn
  • If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
  • If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
  • If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
  • If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
  • If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
  • If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
  • If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
  • If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
  • If children live with security, they learn faith.
  • If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
  • If children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to find love in the world.

Following the purpose of the Congress, considerable legislation has been approved in areas of education, child support, health, work and public safety.

It is for these reasons that the macro institutional effort initiated by Governor Pedro Rosselló through the Executive Order OE-1997 - 13, establishing the Our Children First Congress, under the supervision of his own Office and the Office of the First Lady of Puerto Rico Maga Rosselló, is so important for the work of fostering a more competitive society.

The two working days we shared on September 21-22 were impressive in forming a huge and pluralistic alliance between government, business enterprises and community institutions. The framework was one of unity of purpose, voluntarism, mentoring and friendship and pluralistic efforts for strengthening families, children and improving the quality of life inPuerto Rico.

Indeed, it was a successful undertaking. A main accomplishment was that of establishing a solid foundation for uniting resources and wills to offer children and youth quality access to all of the options and opportunities that correspond to the diversity of their interests and needs, so that they can attain high personal development and self-improvement. We are very proud of being part of such an extraordinary venture!

Copyright 1997 QBS, Inc.
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