FOR RELEASE – November 20, 2020
National Child Day – the power of youth voice
November 20th is National Child Day. The annual event recognizes Canada’s commitment and obligation to upholding children’s rights. It also commemorates the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989.
“We celebrate the power of youth voice on this day” states Annette King, Child and Youth Advocate. This year we want to recognize a local high school student, Max Zimmermann, who is promoting awareness of children’s rights through a video series called Global Action Local Voices. Each episode focuses on one right from the UNCRC. Max shares international information about the right and interviews local youth and experts in the area. To date, Max has completed episodes on the right to education, the right to play, the right to healthy environment, the right to culture, and the right to privacy. He is currently working on UNCRC Article 12 – the right for youth participation.
“I have enjoyed educating and giving voice to youth in my community; I feel like I am making a difference.” states Max Zimmermann.
In addition, YCAO is working with Yukon youth organizations to support a project called Communities Building Youth Futures. Through this initiative, six youth interns have been hired to promote youth voices through engagement, research and development in the first step of creating a Yukon youth strategy.
The primary role of the Child and Youth Advocate Office is to support children and youth in having their views and rights considered in Yukon Government programs and services. “It is the highlight of our day when we see young people involved in decisions that create positive outcomes for their wellbeing”, states King.
“We are often asked about advocacy trends related to the COVID-19 pandemic” states King, “the issues we are seeing are typically not new, instead we are seeing existing issues amplified. The decisions made today, can have lifelong impacts on children. We need to be especially careful when making these decisions because we have not had to contend with anything like COVID before.”
Unfortunately, this year with the uncertainties around COVID-19, YCAO is not hosting the annual National Child Day open house. “However, we have found other ways to recognize the event” said King. With COVID guidelines in mind, YCAO is welcoming people to pop by for a cookie-to-go and a copy of the annual report. Throughout the week, they have been holding a social media trivia contest and polls to engage youth and encourage them to have a say. There are also many online learning events available through national organizations. In addition, YCAO provided a child rights presentations for students at FH Collins and St. Elias Schools.
To get involved in youth engagement activities or to learn more about the role of YCAO and the importance of children’s rights please visit www.ycao.ca.
The Child & Youth Advocate Office is an independent office of the Legislative Assembly. The operations of the office are guided by the Child and Youth Advocate Act; the Annual Report was tabled in October. Children, youth or others concerned about a child or youth eligible to receive services within Yukon Government can contact the Child and Youth Advocate Office at (867) 456-5575.
Intake and Communications Coordinator
Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office