YORK, Pa. — "If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.”
This quote from Marian Wright Edelman explains the guiding force behind Penn State York’s third annual Universal Children Day celebration, set for 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the Precision Custom Components Community Room in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. Promoting the rights of children while having fun at the same time is the goal of the Universal Children’s Day celebration at Penn State York. The event is free and open to the public. Universal Children’s Day was originally scheduled for Nov. 15 but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Universal Children’s Day is sponsored by students taking the Advanced Child Development (HDFS 429) class, and this group has organized Universal Children’s Day each fall since 2016. The group partners with the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Club to create an event that provides activities and information in support of children and their families.
“We wanted to plan something that would be informational as well as fun for parents and children," said Richard Grant, Jasmine Morris, Meredith Schlager and Thalia Splawn, HDFS students who are the key planners of the event. "Most countries of the world celebrate Universal Children’s Day in recognition of declaration of Children’s Rights in November 1989. Our goal for this event is to create awareness of the rights that each child has regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, age, gender or nationality. We also want to provide information for parents regarding topics of interest.”
The organizers hope to draw a crowd with a variety of activities, including coloring activities, an interactive child-centered reading corner, a food activity, and informational posters for parents outlining the rights of children. Posters, created by students, will depict how other countries celebrate children. All those in attendance will recite the Pledge of Responsibility for Children, written by Ina J. Hughs.
The motivation that drove these groups 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 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 U.N. General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children's rights.
Every year on Nov. 20, Universal Children’s Day is observed across the world to promote the rights and welfare of children. This purpose of the observance is to bring awareness of children’s exploitation and discrimination based on religion, minority status or disabilities, and exposure to violence, war, and armed conflict throughout the world.
New this year will be a book drive kick-off. This year students also reached out to community organizations — Head Start/Early Head Start of York County, The Jewish Community Center, and York Day Nursery — to participate in the event and learn about children’s rights. The goal of the book drive is to provide every child in the Head Start program in York County with a copy of the book, “Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis. The books will be distributed in April during the Week of the Young Child.
A “Not a Box” Build-a-thon, sponsored by the Penn State York Psychology and Robotics Clubs, was held on Nov. 8, and the eight creations built will be on display during the Universal Children’s Day event. This event was held as a benefit for the book drive, and ribbons were awarded for the most creative, best-engineered, and popular choice creations. Ann Fetterman, assistant teaching professor in English, helped coordinate the build-a-thon event, and is assisting with the book drive along with members of the HDFS department.
All HDFS faculty, especially Sukhdeep Gill, professor of human development and family Studies and the course instructor, and Amber Seidel, assistant professor of human development and family studies and the faculty adviser for the HDFS Club, are supporting the event along with the rest of the department.
This HDFS 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, visit the website.