“Children are the future of the world, we are the future of the world,” Grade 7 student Adel Manji confidently declared to his schoolmates in the presence of Mayor Jim Watson and MP David McGuinty on Universal Children’s Day, Thursday, November 20.
These powerful words were the closing statement in the school-wide assembly put on by The Element High School to the students at OMS Montessori in Alta Vista. The Element students then led the Elementary students on a walk through the community in solidarity with children of other nations who must walk to have water.
The event was to mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Grade 7, 8 and 9 students passionately spoke about the rights all children should be entitled too and then presented an illustrated booklet to Mr. Watson and Mr. McGuinty.
Mr. McGuinty, who started his career as a lawyer, told the students that the day was especially significant to him: He worked on the Convention many years ago and encouraged the leaders of multiple countries in Africa to sign it.
OMS Montessori’s School Director, Pat Gere, said having the Mayor and MP present made the experience authentic for their students.
“Young people rarely get to see our civil servants in action and the Mayor's and Mr. McGuinty's actual presence added weight to our students' recognition of the importance of rights for children all over the world,” said Pat. “It was wonderful that they could see for themselves that the Mayor and Mr. McGuinty felt that these rights were important enough to join us. Even the five-year-olds were delighted to shake the Mayor's hand!”
Before leaving on the 1.5 kilometer walk, students pointed out that they’d be walking the same distance some children have to walk for water. The students had also strategically placed barrels filled with 25 liters of water around the playground and then encouraged participating students to try to lift them, demonstrating the physical weight of water.
The walk was a national initiative from the Montessori Society of Canada which encouraged Montessori schools across the country to participate in events that brought children’s rights to the limelight.