Young children weave through streets of Charlottetown to mark occasion
© Guardian photo
More than 375 young children from P.E.I. communities and local early learning and childcare facilities took part in Tuesday's National Child Day parade in Charlottetown.
The children didn't have a clue what the parade was all about — and they were the feature participants.
There was such innocence to the throngs of young children bundled up for warmth as they walked, skipped and shuffled up Kent Street Tuesday morning, weaved right on University Avenue and ended their trek at Province House.
There were speeches and refreshments. Fair to say the speeches were lost on the more than 375 young children from P.E.I. communities and local early learning and childcare facilities.
The youngsters, however, sure took notice of the juice boxes and cookies. They also found fun in all the fuss they were able to generate.
"They just love the attention,'' said Sonya Hooper, executive director of the Early Childhood Development Association of PEI.
The purpose of the day - National Child Day - is to draw attention to the rights of children, notes Hooper.
Each year Child Day and the accompanying National Children's Day Parade serves to commemorate the United Nations adoption of two landmark documents concerned with the human rights of all children and youths.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of The Child was signed on Nov. 20, 1959. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child came Nov. 20, 1989.
The convention spells out the basic human rights to which children under the age of 18 everywhere are entitled.
The purpose of Child Day is to promote awareness about the convention to Canadians.
In a statement released Tuesday, the ECDA, a provincial, non-profit organization committed to promoting and supporting quality early childhood development programs and services for children and their families, urged people to voice concerns about Canadian children's rights violations to politicians and to educate our children about their rights and responsibilities.
Three million Canadians were living in low-income families in 2010, according to Statistics Canada. That number includes about 546,000 children under the age of 18 or roughly eight per cent of the children living in Canada.
"While the percentage is going down, that number is still too high,'' said Hooper.
"If you think about 546,000 children, that's almost four times the population of P.E.I. that could be worrying about where their next meal might be coming from.''
As for P.E.I., Hooper sees cause for both optimism and concern.
"I think that there are a number of challenges,'' she said, adding that there has been "movement on policies that have been implemented to assist families as well.''