Children’s Day…history of the day
Reverend Charles Leonard of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer, Chelsea, Massachusetts, first celebrated Children’s Day in June 1857.
The Reverend Father usually dedicated every second Sunday Service in June to and for children. Father Leonard then called the day Rose Day and later renamed Flower Sunday.
However, it was not until August 1924 when some 54 representatives from different countries across the globe gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the well being of children that countries began to take interest in their children.
Referred as the ‘Geneva Declaration On The Rights Of The Child,’ the gathering made a strong appeal for the spiritual needs of children, relief for children in poverty, prevention of child labour, reassessing the way children were educated and other issues related to the welfare of children around the world.
This led the United Nations General Assembly in 1954 to declare November 20 as the Universal Children’s Day, generally referred to as Children’s Day.
After the declaration, various governments around the world designated a day, different in each country, as Children’s Day, to encourage and bring joy to children.
Nigeria chose May 27 date to replace the date for Empire Day, which is no longer celebrated.
On this day, schools are not only granted a public holiday, but the pupils are also encouraged to participate in marches, social and cultural activities that highlight the dignity of children and their need for love, care, respect and national pride.
Children’s Day is not only to celebrate children, but also to sensitize the world to some of the challenges and abuses children face daily across the globe.
Some of these challenges and abuses come in form of denial of quality education, exploitation, boy/girl child discrimination, killing/maiming, abduction/kidnapping, attacks on schools/hospitals, child prostitution and pornography, not allowing humanitarian access to children, among others.
Currently, there are tens of millions of out of school children in Nigerian who are not sure of bright future.
The first country to observe Children’s Day is the Vatican.
• Compiled by Omiko Awa