This World Children’s Day, I decided to have a conversation with my young daughter about why it’s important to bring awareness to the rights that all children should have. She’s just 12 years old, so we talked about something relatable to her — school lunch.
The theme for this year’s day was inclusion for every child. We witnessed this during Covid when over the summer all students nationwide received free school lunches, which was such a great initiative because it included so many children. Even when children began to return to school in person, the initiative continued for the remainder of that year. This was a huge relief for children and families in need.
I spoke with my daughter about the sad reality that not all children have access to free lunch and some kids in school are unable to eat. She asked me: Why is this happening in the United States – how could children attending school go hungry?
There are real consequences for children who are suffering from hunger. According to Feeding America, hungry children tend to struggle in school and have lower academic achievement because they are not able to concentrate and usually aren’t well prepared for school. When children can’t focus because they are suffering from hunger, this causes them stress, which in turn prevents them from learning as they should.
My daughter said this shouldn’t be happening to any child and it makes her extremely sad. She wondered if there were students in her school that were going hungry and what she could do to help them. She’s going to bring it up in her Student Government meeting.
Since her school does offer a free school lunch program, she wants to make sure that students who can’t afford lunch are aware this program exists. I’m proud of my daughter for truly caring about her community, her fellow peers’ well-being, and for getting involved in mankind.
She asked me why there aren’t more grownups doing something about this — including our government. We decided that together we would look into this and see what we can do to help on a local level.
World Children’s Day is the anniversary of the day in 1959 when the UN General Assembly created the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which according to the UN, establishes “children’s rights to protection, education, health care, shelter, and good nutrition.” This day is important because it serves not only as a reminder that so many children in our country and around the world lack basic human necessities or a strong support system, but that we need to work together to do something about it.
Having conversations like the one I had with my daughter is what World Children’s Day is all about. It’s a day that offers us an opportunity to advocate, promote children’s rights, and stand up for a more equal and inclusive world for all children.
We should not be afraid to include our own children in this advocacy — they are often full of more empathy and creative ideas to make change than your average adult. I encourage you to find out what the related local issues are in your area and see which topic your child would like to advocate for — and then help them come up with an action plan of ways they can help or lend their voice.