Today around the world, we celebrate and observe a special day everywhere – World Children’s Day.
November 20th marks two important dates in our history. Both the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989) by the UN General Assembly. 33 years later, the UNCRC is the most universally accepted human rights treaty in history. 54 articles in place to protect, preserve and equip children with rights essential for life.
Article 31 of the UNCRC is one we hold dear to our hearts here at Clowns Without Borders – the right for every child to relax, play, and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities. Space and time for play and leisure is a necessity for children. Among the many benefits of play and leisure, it supports children’s physical and social development, provides emotional relief, and helps develop cognitive skills.
Children who have experienced the trauma of conflict often do not rest or play. Clowns provide safe areas of play and fun to help displaced children. This offers them time for laughs, interaction with other children, and a space to process their emotions and experiences.
Time and time again children find normal in the abnormal. We are constantly astounded by children’s resilience.
“I name this plane after my sister”. Fredir, 8
This is Fredir. He escaped the war in Ukraine with his mum. His new ‘home’ is a simple camp bed in a repurposed ‘expo’ centre in Moldova. Here, our clowns have just performed outside in front of children and parents. With dots and stripes, and reds and blues, the colourful clowns created magic with hula hoops and umbrellas. For the young and the old, it was special.
Joyful activities always follow the show. The fun continues inside the centre as the children share time and play with each other and the clowns. Balls bounce and aeroplanes fly as children get involved in the liveliness.
Within the moment, Fredir tells us, “I like making paper planes. I name this plane after my sister. She is not here with us.”
Clowns Without Borders’s simple, playful activities – like making paper planes – can create a safe space for children to talk about how they feel. They can bring hope and relief for today. Creative and art-based activities reduce the effects of stress, help one build self-esteem, and can help foster meaning and purpose in difficult times.
Children everywhere have the right to explore their creative side.
What’s your favourite part of the show?
“When she went through the hula-hoop!”Natalia, 8, after the show in Moldova
“The umbrella! The umbrella!”Andriy, 6, after the show in Moldova
Today is their day. Let us celebrate them, champion their rights, and raise their voice. Children teach us not to limit ourselves. Let us learn their lesson.
War has forced millions of children to flee their homes. With your help this World Children’s Day, we can continue to bring vital moments of respite and rest to more children affected by the war in Ukraine. Please donate through this link: https://clownswithoutbordersuk.enthuse.com/cp/51c3d/laughter#!/
Our work around Ukraine is done in collaboration with Clowns Without Borders Sweden (@clownerutangranser) and Plan International (@planinternational).
*Children’s real names are not used in this blog post.