A foundation in memory of Lisa Maria Zahra, the teenager who died at the bottom of Dingli Cliffs on March 19, was launched today by her father Tony Zahra and her uncle Winston J. Zahra.

Winston Zahra said this was an initiative to transform a tragic experience into a positive and constructive project with the main objective of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of young children and youths.

Ms Zahra's death shocked the nation, especially when her drama teacher was taken to court and accused of encouraging and assisting her to commit suicide.

The foundation will be led by a Board of Administrators consisting of the founder members together with Prof. Mary Anne Lauri, Pro-Rector at the University of Malta and Patrick Tabone. The Chief Executive Officer is Tonio Pace, who for the past 20 years worked within the educational sector at different levels and has direct experience on the issues related to the objectives of the foundation.

The Lisa Maria Foundation will work to ensure that the best practice policies, codes of ethics and behaviour, recruitment procedures, and training and support frameworks are in place so that the interactions between professional adults and young people are safe, positive and enriching.

”We need to ensure that the right framework is in place to ensure a safe and happy environment within which children and young people can learn and grow”,  Winston Zahra said.

The work of the Foundation will centre around three objectives, namely:

• To promote effective recruitment and selection procedures for all staff and volunteers who are charged with the care of children and young people;
• To promote a code of behaviour which draws clear lines between the adults and the child or young person thus promoting the fulfilment of their responsibilities in respect to the promotion of the welfare of children;

• To educate all persons entrusted with the care of children, on how children and young people put themselves in harm’s way and in particular, from careless use of the social media and exposure to negative influences.

The foundation will work in synergy with established governmental and non-governmental organizations, educational institutions and other authorities who work towards providing a safe environment for children and youths.

tonio@lisamaria-foundation.org or 79469632. Those wishing to make a financial contribution may do so on  BOV account IBAN no: MT42VALL22013000000040022689883, Swift Code: VALLMTMT

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