Universal Children's Day celebrates the rights of children

Universal Children's Day 1

Sukhdeep Gill, associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State York, encourages her students to be passionate about fighting for the rights of children.  Becca Gembe, a student in the Advanced Child Development class, helps plan for the Universal Children's Day event.

Credit: Barbara Dennis

YORK, Pa. — Celebrating children and their rights is something that the Community Relations Council (CFR) Club at Penn State York takes very seriously.  When members of the club found out about Universal Children’s Day, they decided to create an event that would provide activities and information to support children and their families. The celebration from 4 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the Conference Center is free and open to the public.

“We wanted to plan something that would be informational for parents and children. Many other countries celebrate a day where children are the main focus,” said Stacy Rae, vice president of the CFR Club and a student at Penn State York majoring in human development and family studies (HD FS). “Just like we have Mother’s and Father’s Days, Universal Children's Day is widely known. Our goal of this event is to create awareness of the rights that children have and provide information for parents regarding topics of interest.” 

Rae and Shawnee Hostetter, president of the CFR Club and an HD FS student, have organized the event with the help of numerous other HD FS students and faculty members.  

What helped prompt Rae and Hostetter to organize the event was the discovery that the United States is the only country in the world that has not adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on Nov. 20, 1959, and on Nov. 20, 1989, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, Universal Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children's rights.

Every year, Universal Children’s Day is observed across the world on Nov. 20 to promote the rights and welfare of children. This day is focused on bringing awareness to children’s exploitation and discrimination based on religion, minority status, or disabilities and exposure to violence, war and armed conflict throughout the world.  

In addition to the CFR Club, students taking the Advanced Child Development class learned about this information and decided to join forces with the club, and other organizations at the campus, to celebrate Universal Children’s Day to create awareness and advocate for children’s rights.  

Although the Nov. 17 event is a bit earlier than the recognized observance on Nov. 20, organizers hope to draw a crowd with a variety of activities, including hands-on craft stations, an interactive child-centered reading corner, a sensory station, and informational posters for parents outlining the rights of children.  Posters, created by students, will also depict how other countries celebrate children. The goal of the event is to have fun and at the same time increase awareness about the rights of children.  

Sukhdeep Gill, associate professor of human development and family studies; Amber Seidel, assistant professor of human development and family studies; and JeanMarie St. Clair-Christman, instructor and field coordinator in human development and family studies, are supporting the event and the work of their students. The CFR Club and other campus groups hope to make this observance an annual event on campus.

This HD FS major at Penn State York is a multidisciplinary program that examines the development of individuals and families across the life span. It enables students to prepare for professional, managerial, or scientific roles in health and human services professions, in public and nonprofit agencies, and in business and industry, as well as for advanced professional or graduate study. Students obtain a broad background in individual and family development across the life span. 

To learn more about the bachelor of science in Human Development and Family Studies (HD FS), visit http://york.psu.edu/academics/baccalaureate/human-development-and-family-studies.