November 20th is Universal Children’s Day. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, the holiday was instituted to foster “mutual understanding and exchange among children” and also promote global child welfare. Five years later, the UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which mandated their fundamental human rights, dignity, and worth, and in 1989 UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child set minimum human rights, freedoms, and entitlements for children to be recognized by governments.
In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals established by world leaders included halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, significantly reducing poverty levels, and providing universal primary education for children. In 2012, Education First was a UN Secretary General-launched initiative to raise the political profile of education.
Let’s face it, a day to celebrate children the world over is a great idea, and here at home thinking about ways to put aside that hectic routine and do something out of the ordinary with your own lets them know how much you value and appreciate them.
For busy San Franciscans Robert and Marcy Carr, making the time to explore their own city was something reserved for out of town guests who came once a year. With three jobs between them and a full house with kids ages 10, 9, and 6, time was at a premium. Family “activities” usually consisted of trips to the grocery store, chauffeuring to and from after school sports and music lessons, and weekend bike rides or a trip to the beach in warmer weather. “Occasionally we’d go to a museum or movie, but the kids would end up as tired as we were (from their hectic workweek),” Marcy said, adding they’d fallen into a habit of simply renting a DVD that not everybody wanted to see.
Acknowledging they’d never heard of Universal Children’s Day until their older son came home from school talking about it, Robert did some research with the end result a decision to give their children the gift of time.
“They have their moments as all kids do but they’re wonderful young people,” he said, describing how much they make of Mother’s and Father’s Day. “If they can give us breakfast in bed, we can do something fun and unexpected like that for them–along with anything else we can figure out to let them know how much they matter to us.”
For single mom Alison Parks, reaching out to her small Colorado community and its single mom and single dad households was the right thing to do for their children.
“So many of us have limited funds and even less time, filling the roles of both mom and dad,” she said. “A pizza party at the local bowling alley to honor all of our kids seemed to be the way to thank them and tell them they mattered, and you can imagine how surprised they were when it wasn’t even anyone’s birthday!”
While global organizations continue to find ways to nurture, protect, educate, and encourage children, creating your own opportunities to let yours know how much they’re loved and appreciated matters. A day where you acknowledge them for whom they are as valued individuals can make a huge difference in their lives.