Sri Lanka urges UN to study global inequality failure to lift millions

Citing his efforts to ensure that economic growth benefits all segments of society in his own country, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today called on the United Nations to study the international community’s failure to improve the lot of the impoverished worldwide.“According to World Bank projections, by 2015, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia will be home to approximately 40 per cent of the developing world’s population living in extreme poverty,” he told the General Assembly on the first day of its annual General Debate, noting that commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had brought a real sense of hope. “[Yet these projections] only diminish the sense of our optimism. It is fitting for the UN system to examine the causes for the failure in improving the lot of the deprived,” he said.The year 2015 is the target date for achieving the MDGs, which seek to slash extreme hunger and poverty, boost access to health care and education, achieve gender equality and environmental stability, and reduce maternal and child mortality and the incidence of HIV/AIDS.“Reflecting on the work of the UN, matters of a political nature have overridden the most basic issues, which affect the underprivileged and marginalized, who dominate world society,” Mr. Rajapaksa said, noting that while appreciable progress has been made on the MDGs, the results have been uneven among and within countries. With regard to Sri Lanka, he said his vision has been to distribute the benefits of growth across all segments of the population and prevent inequalities, social exclusion and adverse environmental effects. He stressed that the post-2015 development agenda, the theme of this year’s 68th General Assembly, must have poverty eradication and accelerated growth in the developing world as its primary goals, but he pointed to the uneven playing field between developed and developing countries with regard to global warming gas emissions.“Centuries of growth in advanced economies have left little carbon space for the developing world, challenging their growth,” he said. “The thin lines of balancing economic development and protection of the environment will remain a great challenge in future development policy-setting. “It is therefore critical that developed countries honour their commitments and compensate damage to the environment, on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities.”On other issues, Mr. Rajapaksa called for reform of international monetary and financial institutions to express the solid voice of the developing world, decried interference by some in the internal affairs of developing countries, called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and condemned the United States embargo against Cuba. Meeting earlier with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Rajapaksa exchanged views on the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka and the country’s cooperation with the UN. According to a readout of the meeting, the Secretary-General noted the Government’s latest efforts to conduct the provincial elections and to implement the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Mr. Ban also addressed the remaining challenges in reconciliation and emphasized the need for a more holistic approach. read more

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Brock student uses social media to connect students raise mental health awareness

Health Sciences student Kaitlyn Kerridge was a driving force behind the Facebook component of the award-winning, Brock student-led initiative Cope Care Connect.When it comes to social media, Kaitlyn Kerridge sees the power to connect people.“Walk into any university classroom and see what students are doing on their computer or on their phone,” says Kerridge. “There’s always a Facebook tab open.”“Everyone is always on there, so it’s your way to reach the greatest amount of people in the shortest amount of time. And it’s interactive, which is the best part.”The health sciences student was a driving force behind the Facebook component of the Brock student-led initiative Cope Care Connect. The campaign won first place last week in the province-wide Mental Health 2.0 competition that challenged students to use social media to boost mental health at Ontario universities.The online and face-to-face initiative, which aims to help Brock students cope with everyday stress, care for others, and connect with each other for support, took on a life of its own on social media.To date, Cope Care Connect’s Facebook page has close to 500 likes and some posts have been viewed more than 800 times. Kerridge notes that inspiring quotes posted to the site were some of the most-shared and most-viewed content.“I feel that we as humans have almost lost the ability to talk to each other,” she says. “We’re so hidden behind the screen, but social media can work both ways.”“We’re trying to do this for the better and get people to just talk about these issues because sometimes when you just say it out loud it helps so much more.”Cope Care Connect grew out of a class project in her third-year “Program Planning and Evaluation” Health Sciences class with Professor Kelli-an Lawrance. The entire project involved 60 students in the development, implementation and evaluation of the mental health campaign, which ran at Brock from Feb. 3 to March 10.Students were divided into different project committees – marketing, website, social media, display tables, etc. – and Kerridge volunteered to be part of the five-person group overseeing the initiative’s Facebook page.“We wanted to go beyond just getting students to like the page,” says Kerridge, “because anyone can see it, but are they really understanding what’s there?”To engage with students, Kerridge and her crew would post to their Facebook page two to three times every school day. They encouraged fellow students to actively post things themselves, like pictures and videos of them doing something around campus for somebody else. They also held weekly contests and developed themes for every week of the five-week campaign in order to drive up student engagement on the site.“We just wanted to try and get across to students that it feels really good when you do something for someone that you don’t even know,” says Kerridge. “You can turn someone’s day around if you do something like that. It could be the difference between someone having a really crappy day and someone having a good day.”Prof. Lawrance plans to implement the Cope Care Connect campaign in her third-year Health Sciences class again next year. Kerridge hopes that Cope Care Connect one day develops into a full-time student resource at Brock. She would also like to see the initiative expand its social media presence with Twitter and Instagram accounts.Kerridge, who is in her last year of study at Brock, plans to go on to work in health sciences. She credits her involvement with Cope Care Connect with helping her to develop her own personal research interests in mental health alternative therapies.“It wasn’t really until this year that I decided that is really my forte and where I wanted to go with my studies,” she says.Students interested in tips for coping with the pressures of school or more info on making Brock’s campus a healthier place for everyone, can access the Cope Care Connect Survival Guide online.This campaign was made possible through a partnership with Brock’s Student Health Services, who provided resources, in-kind support and expert consultation. read more

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