In Mexico, April 30th is traditionally marked as Children’s Day, a celebration filled with activities, gifts, treats, and fun. This year, schools in the UCSN network kept with Mexican tradition and dedicated a day to the most important component of our schools: the children. Family is supremely important in Mexico. Celebrations of the family are marked by Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day in August, Family Day in March, a day for brothers and sisters, and even days dedicated to people important to the family, like the Day of the Doctor, Day of the Teacher and Day of the Secretary. Children’s Day, however, is special.
In a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, master teachers, directors, and community members, students attended classes like never before on April 30th. At Soccer Academy Elementary, Master Teacher Sandra Medina exhaustively planned, set up, and realized a full-fledged celebration of children. Focusing around the rights of children set forth by the United Nations in the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, UCSN believes children should know, understand, and celebrate their rights. For those unfamiliar, the beliefs are:
1. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights.
2. Every child has the right to means that enable him/her to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, and socially in a healthy and normal manner with dignity.
3. Every child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.
4. Every child has the right to grow and develop in health with adequate nutrition, housing, recreation, and medical services.
5. Children with physical, mental, or social handicaps shall be given the appropriate treatment and education.
6. Children have a right to a family, an atmosphere of affection, and a place of moral and material security. Society and public authorities have the duty of extending help to those without adequate support.
7. The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society. The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents. The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavor to promote the enjoyment of this right.
8. The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
9. The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form. The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age.
10. The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men (Adapted from: http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/1959-Declaration-of-the-Rights-of-the-Child.pdf).
As teachers, these protections and rights are instrumental in producing the types of people we hope will emerge from our schools. Regardless of the various idiosyncrasies and misalignments that seem to sometimes define us, celebrations like Children’s Day are a great reminder that we’re all here, together, for the kids.