On National Child Day, Canada's children say "It's our time to be heard"

UNICEF Canada's "Bring your MP to School Day" unites students and Members of Parliament from across the country

TORONTO, Nov. 20, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, UNICEF Canada celebrates National Child Day in Canada and Universal Children's Day worldwide by empowering young people to use their voice. To mark the day, UNICEF Canada's "Bring your MP to School Day," gives students across the country the opportunity to meet and converse with their Members of Parliament to highlight issues that matter most to them.

In the week leading up to National Child Day, close to 40 MPs visited schools across the country to speak to their youngest constituents. No child was too far to be heard. The participating MPs recognize their duty to hear the views of the youngest citizens - who don't vote but are a quarter of Canada's population.

"'Bring your MP to School Day' is a great opportunity for children to not only share their opinions, but to also inform decisions that affect them," said David Morley, President and CEO, UNICEF Canada. "It's very encouraging to see MPs connect with young people on important issues. A meaningful dialogue can set the foundation for good governance as well as happy, healthy childhoods."

Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the right to express their views and to be heard on the issues affecting them. During the "Bring your MP to School Day" visits, students discussed issues ranging from Canada's Northern sovereignty to homelessness. A number of classrooms also discussed concern for global issues such as those affected by Typhoon Haiyan and the ongoing conflict in Syria.

All participating MPs were delighted to have participated in this initiative. "I am very happy to be participating in UNICEF's 'Bring Your MP to School Day'. I have engaged with these students, have listened and learned from what they have to say" remarked Larry Miller, MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.

"We forget they have really important things to offer and we should listen to them. Despite the fact that students are too young to vote, they still deserve to be heard because children do remarkable things!" said Malcolm Allen, MP for Welland.

"I was thrilled to participate and I think this initiative is important because it can help young people learn about how government impacts their day to day life, and how they can participate in the political process. I was impressed with the excellent questions the students asked me. They showed that they have been following the news and have developed their own views about current events" said Geoff Regan, MP for Halifax West.

UNICEF Canada will continue to encourage Canadian youth to be heard by hosting Twitter exchanges today. Canadian youth can discuss issues in Canada and how international development can create better futures for children around the world by tweeting to @UNICEFLive and @UNICEFQuebec with the hashtag #timetobeheard.

To learn more about National Child Day, Universal Children's Day or UNICEF Canada's "Bring your MP to School Day," including a list of participating schools and MPs, visit www.unicef.ca/ncd.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

SOURCE: UNICEF Canada

For further information:

Layal Horanieh
UNICEF Canada
(Office) 514 288-5134 ext 8425
lhoranieh@unicef.ca


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