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Child speakers to hit home Buddy Day messages

Child speakers to hit home Buddy Day messages

"Every week there is some story on the news where a child has been hurt or neglected.

"That makes me feel sad – and sometimes mum has to turn the TV off because I get so upset. But as grownups you shouldn't turn the TV off. You should be saying, "No, this shouldn't be happening and how are we going to stop it?

"You can all make a difference and take responsibility for growing happy kids. It costs nothing. It starts with having conversations and changing your attitudes towards how children are treated. It's not someone else's problem, it's yours." – Jack Austin, aged 8, Southwell School, Hamilton

For the first time, audiences at Friday's Buddy Day breakfasts will hear a child's perspective on why it's so important that all adults commit to doing altogether better for kids.

The above statement is an excerpt of the speech that will be delivered by Hamilton's child ambassador on Friday.

Buddy Day is taking place in Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Ohakune on Friday (13 November) for the fifth consecutive year since its inception in Hamilton, in 2011.

The awareness event is run by national child advocacy agency Child Matters with the aim of raising awareness, starting conversations, and driving change about the role every adult plays in the lives of children – from preventing child abuse to providing great environments for children to flourish.

This year, 2000 Buddies (cardboard cut-outs that have been given clothes, faces, hair, accessories and a 'personality') have been created by school and preschool children from 100 schools ready to be adopted on Friday. This number of Buddies is up from 180 in 2011.

The Buddies are then adopted by adults who take them out into the community and their workplaces in a powerful visual display where they can be used as tools to generate conversations about the wellbeing of New Zealand children – and that it takes a community to raise a child.

Buddy Day starts with a breakfast event in each host location, where sponsors, dignitaries, Child Matters and child advocates, who are generally well-known New Zealand personalities, get together to share the messages of Buddy Day and celebrate those who have registered to adopt Buddies on the day.

For the first time this year, a student from a participating school in four of the locations has been asked to speak at the breakfast event.

They are:

  • Hamilton – Jack Austin (8) of Southwell School
  • Tauranga – Molly Shivnan and Sam Jones (both 13) of Mount Maunganui Intermediate
  • Auckland – Jemma Hope (9) of Rutherford Primary School
  • Wellington – Sophie Penn (7) of Marsden Primary School

* Embargoed copies of the students Buddy Day speeches and hi-res photos are available upon request.

"It's very important that we hear from the children that we are trying to protect and nurture through this cause," said Buddy Day manager Janine Evans.

"It's important for adults to hear their perspective on why they need to make a concerted effort every day to do altogether better for kids.

"It's also symbolic of handing over these Buddies that the students have created into the care of these adults. There's an element of trust in handing over the Buddies to the community to look after, which is exactly the role that adults in the community should be assuming for real children."

Buddy Day is about doing altogether better for kids. Through the carers on Buddy Day, the Buddies will ask people all day: "What one thing will you do better for kids in your field of view - today, this week or this year?"

The huge negative impact that the mistreatment of children has on the health and wellbeing of the New Zealand population is the main reason principal supporter of Buddy Day, Sovereign, became involved in 2013.

Child Matters chief executive Anthea Simcock tells how in its origins, Buddy Day was created to challenge existing attitudes and behaviours towards the way we value our children, and shift us all towards a society that prioritises the wellbeing of children in everything we do.

"We know that child protection initiatives such as training, child protection policies and changes in legislation work towards ensuring children in New Zealand can reach their full potential.

"However, the reality is that we cannot take a nationwide journey to behavioural change without every person – every community – understanding that it's their responsibility to do better for all children."

"We want to encourage people to do what they can to impact children's lives in positive ways every day – whether it is making a change for one child, or doing something that will make a difference for many.

"Every child deserves a great childhood, and I believe it is everybody's business to do what they can to make this happen.

Participation in Buddy Day is free and adults can register as Buddy 'Carers' at www.buddyday.org.nz where there is also more information about the breakfast events.




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