A Child’s Voice: The Right to Participate
November 18, 2022
Every year on November 20th, Canada celebrates the rights of children on what is called National Child Day.
Canada chose this day to celebrate as it aligns with when the United Nations adopted the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (UNRC) on November 20, 1989, as well as when the United Nations General Assembly put into place the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The UNRC was signed as a commitment to children, ensuring that all children are treated with dignity and respect and ensuring that all children are presented with every opportunity to reach their full potential.
This commitment also includes:
- Providing children opportunities to have a voice
- Protecting children from harm
- Ensuring children’s basic needs are met
Each year a theme is selected as a focus on how to ensure this commitment is fulfilled. 2022’s theme is “the right to participate”. A child’s right to participate gives them the opportunity to build a sense of self, participate in decision-making, and empowers them to learn appropriate boundaries, grow their voice, and achieve confidence.
At Wood’s Homes, we value a child’s right to participate. Working from a client and person-centered approach, we listen to and value the feedback of the children we serve. By giving children the right to participate in their treatment and care, we give them a voice and teach them the skills they need to advocate for themselves as they grow into youth and journey into adulthood.
I am fortunate to see how we honor children’s right to participate at the Family Support Network, Supported Visitation, and Kinship Support within our work. As a collaborative service, we provide the platform for children to use their voices and participate in their family treatment and case plans. We listen to children and let them tell us what they want their familial connection to look like, giving them the opportunity to participate in relationship building the way that they want, and not how someone tells them.
By providing ongoing consistency and structure for children in our programs, we promote participation and comfortability by creating a more natural and nurturing environment in exchange for what could be felt as unnatural and uncomfortable. Though sometimes, honoring this right can be as simple as listening to a child’s interests and showing interest, allowing them to pick out a new toy or game for a visit, some new supplies for school, or new sheets for a new bed in a new home.
Not only is National Child Day a day to celebrate the rights of children, but it is also a day of opportunity for parents and caregivers to teach children about their rights and to celebrate themselves.
Here are some different ways that you can celebrate and participate this year:
- Wear BLUE. Wear a t-shirt, paint your nails, paint your face
- Learn about child rights and teach your children about their rights
- Read a story or watch a film about children’s rights
- Attend a webinar, online, or in-person event that highlights social justice issues for children