Welcome to Children’s Week 2021. We are looking forward to an exciting week of happy activities celebrating our children and young people and their achievements and aspirations. Our thanks and admiration go out to the many organisations and individuals who have worked creatively to ensure these celebrations can go ahead despite the COVID restrictions which have brought so many changes to our world.
The uncertainties of the past two years have been particularly difficult for children and young people: the toddlers who don’t understand why they can’t visit Grandma or see their friends at childcare, the active children whose sport is on hold indefinitely, the teenagers missing their friends and activities, the school leavers wondering if they will find jobs. Fortunately, many wonderful people have worked tirelessly to keep our young people positive and optimistic. And young people themselves have reached out to those who may be struggling.
So, this year’s theme, taken from Article 15 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for Children’s Week, Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others is both poignant and very relevant as we explore new ways to connect. The second part of the theme, which emphasises the reciprocal rights of other young people, is particularly important as we negotiate the world of cyber connection, mask wearing, social distancing and so on. It invites us to reflect on the very real issues our children and young people are facing and the best ways to help them meet those challenges.
Children’s Week is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the many dedicated people, from all ages and walks of life, working to ‘make a difference’ for our children and young people. The Committee offers small grants to organisations to help run activities during the week, to increase awareness of the needs, interest, rights and achievements of children and young people and to promote community involvement and cooperation.
The Committee also presents awards which give public recognition to individuals or groups for outstanding contributions to the needs, welfare and interests of children and to young people who are outstanding role models for their peers. Although the awards are non-competitive, a representative group is chosen to receive their awards at our Launch and Awards Ceremony, held on Universal Children’s Day. This inspiring (and humbling) Ceremony is a highlight of Children’s Week every year and, although this year it will be a virtual event, we are confident it will be just as special.
The ACT Children’s Week Committee is fortunate to have the support of the ACT Government (through the Education and Community Services Directorates, including the Office for Seniors and Veterans), the Catholic Education Office and the Canberra Southern Cross Club. We are members of the Children’s Week Council of Australia which receives support from the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. We acknowledge and appreciate this support.
This year, our thanks also go to Parentline ACT who have assisted our volunteer committee with administration and social media. Last but by no means least, I want to warmly thank the small dedicated team of volunteers who do the day to day work of the ACT Children’s Week Committee. Their energy, enthusiasm and commitment (especially as most of our meetings have happened via Zoom this year) is inspirational and much appreciated.
Let us all enjoy celebrating Children’s Week but also take time to consider how we can support all children and young people to grow and prosper.