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Children really are our most precious resource

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” Matthew 19:14.

When my three kids were small I liked to play with them using the Leap Frog educational toolkit. Recently, I examined a Newsweek Education Program Issues Today map toolkit. What I learned about the current plight of children around the world wasn’t amusing.

For instance, in Colombia children as young as 8 are often forcibly recruited into armed militias. They serve as combatants, spies, kidnappers, and human shields. At gemstone mines in Tanzania, children known as ‘snake boys’ crawl through narrow tunnels to position equipment and ignite explosions. And, in Burma, more than 50,000 child soldiers are forced to do everything from preparing meals to committing executions. Most are under age 15.

Thankfully, there are some among us who care for youth. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a UNICEF report entitled ‘The State of the World’s Children’ calls for brave and fresh thinking to address age-old problems still affecting the world’s most disadvantaged kids.

What are some other enigmas that plague kids the world over? Empirical data presented in periodicals like the International Journal of Epidemiology confirm that among them are issues affecting our children’s health, protection, survival, education, nutrition, water and sanitation, and exploitation.

Coincidently, the United Nations General Assembly recommends that all countries establish a Universal Children’s Day.  The International Day for Protection of Children, observed in many countries as Children’s Day on June 1, since 1950, was established by the Women’s International Domestic Federation at its Congress in Moscow. Based on information provided by www.timeanddate.com this day promotes international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and children’s welfare.

Children’s Day is May 5 in Japan.  The fifth day of the fifth month was traditionally called Tango no Sekku, and was originally a festival for boys. Jawaharial Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India was said to be very fond of children. Matter of fact, I learned that kids would affectionately call him Chacha (Hindu for Uncle Nehru).

Children’s Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in June in America. So, what is being done to honor and protect kids here? A March 28th WCTV Eyewitness News report placed the spotlight on the efforts of roughly 4,000 kids and their parents who filled the courtyard of the Florida Capitol this Legislative session to celebrate Children’s Day. The event is designed to get lawmakers to pay attention to the unique needs of children.

I really enjoy touring the rotunda of the capitol,  admiring the colorful hands designed and posted on the walls by children from all across the state. Jason Zaborske, lead organizer, affirms that the hands serve as a reminder to lawmakers that Florida’s kids must be taken care of. As a father, grandfather, uncle, and youth minister my hat goes off to Mr. Zaborske and his partners.

Elsewhere, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently awarded a five year $1.8 million grant to the Providence, Rhode Island Children and Youth Cabinet for the Building Trauma Sensitive Schools (BTSS) initiative. Relying on the Annie E. Casey’s Foundation’s Evidence 2 Success framework, the initiative will serve more than 3,000 adolescents; it helps them deal with anxiety, trauma, and depression.

In addition, I unequivocally believe kids should have a chance to be kids. They shouldn’t have to be under excessive stress and strife. The month of April was Stress Awareness Month, and children should be able to have fun and relax more. When I was a young lad, I enjoyed cartoons, children’s books, and the great outdoors. I urge others to read children’s books to kids, play child appropriate games with them, and take groups of adolescents fishing, and to other sporting events.

I recently ran across a child’s book entitled: The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Pressure. This book by Stan and Jan Berenstain offers a maxim that we can use when it comes to alleviating childhood stress. The quote from the First Time Books series says “when cubs and their parents get a little too busy, their everyday lives get a little too dizzy”. Hug a child today, they really are our most precious resource.

Rev. Gene Hall

Youth Minister

Pleasant Grove M.B. Church

Ashville, Florida

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