Samante: Child's play

Game On

THIS Friday, November 20, we will celebrate International Children's Day or World Children's Day. Celebrated first in 1954 as Universal Children's Day. Five years later, in 1959, the UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

Thirty-years hence after the declaration, 1989 marked the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children's rights are not different from fundamental human rights. These are just special rights afforded for children who are among the vulnerable in society.

I am a child's rights advocate. And one of the many child rights I feel strongly about is the child's right to play. As stipulated in Article 31, "...every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life..."

However, often overlooked by governments is this right of children. Many children already engage in work as young as 15 years of age, as provided by our Labor Code. Child labor can be attributed to a lot of factors but primarily to poverty.

In May of 2017, I was fortunate enough to help organize the PSC-initiated Mindanao Children's Games. It was the highlight of my being a child's rights advocate.

Seeing the children of Davao city enjoy traditional games and parlor games such as "kadang-kadang," and Maria went to town. The smiles and laughter of the children playing were a sight to behold.

I also remember that we conducted the games against the back-drop of the Marawi siege. This initiative of the PSC had several more off-shoot implementations across Mindanao, including children from war-torn Marawi.

In July of 2017, Unesco recognized the PSC Children's Games as a template that can be used by governments in aligning programs for children and national policy.

In this time of the pandemic, children are locked in their homes. They cannot go out and play, even to mingle with other children. We have a lot of planning and thinking to do for the children. Gadgets are not enough alternatives for play and interaction. It also exposes them to cyber-predators.

As we celebrate World Children's Day, I call fellow child rights advocates to come together to benefit the children. Let us explore ways to help them cope with the pandemic. Let us help them re-discover play even amid Covid.


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