A couple of hundred parents and children celebrated the rights of children in Revelstoke at a special ceremony organized by the Early Childhood Development Committee (ECDC) at RSS on Thursday evening.
Preceded by entertainment from local preschoolers and elementary school students and the presentation of the Most Family-Friendly Business Award to Christy Shaw of Mountain Goodness and the Most Family-Friendly Workplace to Roberta Bobicki of the Revelstoke Credit Union, the ceremony culminated in the signing of what the ECDC called the Revelstoke Children’s Charter.
“This Charter sets out a vision for our children to have the freedom to grow as individuals,” said ECDC Coordinator Tracy Spannier.
Based on the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, the local charter says children have the right to:
Food, clothing a safe place to live and to have their basic needs met;
Protection from neglect and the freedom t live without fear;
Protection from physical, psychological or sexual abuse both in and out of the home;
Time with their families and other nurturing and positive role models;
Special education and accommodations if they have a disability, so they have equal access and opportunities;
an individual identity free from discrimination;
access to recreation and leisure activities;
Be respected, speak freely and have their opinions heard;
The best health care possible;
Quality child care and early childhood development opportunities;
Quality education that enables them to reach their full potential;
Play, participate and make friends;
Have their own privacy; and
Be served by governments that honour their responsibilities to children.
This may sound self-evident, but not all children enjoy these rights and while the Revelstoke Children’s Charter is not legally binding it does provide a clear vision and framework for the kind of community we aspire to be.
Revelstoke already enjoys a reputation for progressive thinking when it comes to children and education and that was underscored by the presence of a group of teachers who drove here from Nelson to learn more about our local experience.
During a presentation after the signing of the Charter by Mayor David Raven and other dignitaries, Spannier and School District 19 Superintendent Anne Cooper (who actually sang small portions of her role) outlined the many successes enjoyed in Revelstoke where a progressive Early Childhood Development program has long been regarded to be the key to future educational success by children.
“We deeply believe this is the way we should work,” Spannier said.
And it is paying tangible dividends, with the establishment of a number of successful preschool programs and active attention to the well-being of kids at the elementary level, the vulnerability of local children, as measured using the so-called Early Development Instrument, has improved greatly since province-wide measurements were begun in 1999. Revelstoke has gone from fifth place with 19.1% of students regarded as vulnerable to to first place. Local measurement of the number of students who have moderate-to-intense behavioural problems have declined markedly from 38 in 2004/05 to only three students this year, Cooper said.
Now, with the Neighbourhood of Learning program set to open next year the future should be even brighter for local school kids.
If you missed Thursday’s ceremony, you can capture a sense of it through the following photos: