Category Archives: Declaration of the Rights of the Child

Making Way for World Children’s Day

World Children’s Day commemorates the joys of childhood as well as the responsibilities of families, communities and governments to safeguard children’s rights including their mental, physical, social and economic well-being.

New York City – 1959. Sourced from The New York Daily News.

First established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day, it is celebrated annually on November 20 “to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.”

Also on November 20th 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. And on the same date 30 years later during the 44th session of the General Assembly, then UN adopted, opened for signature, ratification and accession the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 1989, the General Assembly was profoundly concerned that:

the situation of children in many parts of the world remains critical as a result of inadequate social conditions, natural disasters, armed conflicts, exploitation, illiteracy, hunger and disability…

The Convention has been ratified by most countries with the significant exception of the United States. Current status of signatories and parties to the Convention is available here on the UN site including a list of declarations and reservations.

Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong  – 1989 – Sourced from CNN

Article 31 of the Convention states that:

…every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

That member governments shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

Play is an integral component of any holistic celebration of childhood. The opportunity for kids to play independently in a secure environment is central to their well-being and their discovery of the world around them. For an in depth treatment of play considerations associated with Article 31, please consult General Comment 17 to the Committee on the Rights of the Child by the International Play Association.

Communities in various parts of the world are celebrating this day with play related activities and programs. In Alberta, Canada a full day has been set aside for the Calgary Play Summit with a goal of Transforming Calgary into the City of Play.

Calgary has been on a roll for a few years with events, policy development and programming. In 2017, the City hosted the International Play Association (IPA) Triennial Conference. The Calgary Play Charter was signed to coincide with the conference bringing together “leaders from 36 Calgary and area organizations joined Mayor Nenshi, the Canadian Ministry for Sport and Persons with Disability, and MLA Robyn Luff in a celebration of play, community and partnership to sign this play charter.” More recently, the City took a leadership role in developing a guide to champion Mobile Adventure Playgrounds.

There is much more going on for, with and by children. Kids are the change that adults can’t contain as referenced in the UNICEF video below. How can we encourage our communities and governments to engage?

All the best from Nova Scotia on #WorldChildrensDay