Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth message on the occasion of Children's Week 2014

For a Playful and Creative Childhood

1. 10. 2014

The first week in October has been dedicated specially to children since 1954. In this year’s Children’s Week between October 6 and 12, the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth (SAFY) will pay special attention to play and all those activities that children choose themselves and enjoy participating in, and that are invaluable for the development of their social, intellectual and cognitive skills. A part of these efforts is also the Wink at the Sun initiative, which for 16 years has been a joint project of SAFY and Lek, a Sandoz company.

The message on the occasion of Children’s Week is again this year related to the Children’s Parliament theme Education and Career Guidance, which young parliamentarians chose at the national Children’s Parliament meeting on April 7 at the Slovenian National Assembly.

Childhood is an extremely interesting period of life when children continuously explore and test their own abilities. Children progress, learn, and develop their skills without anyone expecting results, which is not the case with learning in school. Therefore, in addition to guided leisure activities, informal socializing and children’s games are of utmost importance. Development opportunities for children in their free time nowadays unfortunately largely depend on the social situation of parents or carers as the possibility of participation in free extracurricular activities has practically disappeared.

»Children should have free time that allows them to explore and test their abilities. In this way they also find out what they like best. This enables easier decision-making later in life with regard to education and the career path they wish to pursue. We also should not forget children’s right to play – this right is also enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Adults should provide children with leisure time and opportunities for play. I call on schools to reflect on this and ensure to the largest extent possible that free extracurricular activities are accessible to all children. SAFY aims to achieve this through various programs and initiatives, including the Wink at the Sun campaign, which we co-create together with Lek, a Sandoz company, where children can spend quality leisure time and take part in wonderful adventures,” highlighted Darja Groznik, president of the Slovene Association of Friends of Youth, on the occasion of this year’s Children’s Week and added that this year’s Wink of the Sun campaign made free holidays possible for 329 children, while through associations and societies within Friends of Youth, over 1,500 children enjoyed free holidays.

Throughout Children’s Week we will therefore ask ourselves whether state institutions (kindergartens, schools, local communities, ministries, non-governmental organisations and others) are doing enough to respect children’s rights to the fullest extent possible. Do all children have guaranteed equal opportunities in exercising these rights?

“The crisis that many parents face, also affects the lives of their children. As a result, some are deprived of opportunities to take part in leisure activities, extracurricular activities in school or outside school, to go on trips or holidays. I am asking myself if society and the state can do more to ensure that all children are provided equal opportunities for enjoying the right to organized and quality leisure time. Slovenian society has been namely witnessing for a few years the diminution of guaranteed level of social protection, a reduction or even a drying up of financial resources for some programs, intended for children, including in their free time,” highlighted Vlasta Nussdorfer, the Human Rights Ombudsman. As she stated in the Ombudsman’s Annual Report for 2013, it would be better to devote thousands or even millions of euros which are always found and available to plug the budget holes, caused by incorrect decisions of the authorities, failure of rule of law and uncontrolled run-off of funds into private pockets, for the common good, also or especially for children.

SAFY, together with Lek, a Sandoz company, co-creates the Wink at the Sun program, which provides free holidays for children from disadvantaged family backgrounds and thereby exercises their right to have a playful and creative childhood. »All of us who, as children or adolescents, used to spend holidays in summer camps, know how important these experiences were for our childhood. And when we visit the children spending their holidays through the Wink at the Sun campaign nowadays, we can see that this has not changed. For children, carefree holidays, full of holiday memories, packed with new knowledge and experience or making new friends, is invaluable. They develop habits and values that can grow only in a supportive environment where children and their needs come first. Every child should have this opportunity. Therefore, Lek, a Sandoz company, has been participating with maximum dedication in the Wink at the Sun initiative for 16 years. Through this campaign, 329 children had free holidays this year, bringing the total to more than 10,500 children over the entire period,« said Katarina Klemenc, Head Corporate Communication at Lek, a Sandoz group.

The importance of leisure time, play and recreational activities in every child’s life has long been recognized by the international community. Already back in 1959, the declaration on the Rights of the Child stated that society and public authorities should seek to promote the exercising of this right. This right was further strengthened by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted on 20 November 1989, twenty-five years ago. The signatory states recognize a child’s right to rest and have free time, leisure and recreation, according to his/her age, and undertake to exercise this right through providing appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, and other recreational activities.

TOM telephone received 24.782 calls in 2013

At the initiative of the Commission for Children’s Rights at SAFY, TOM telephone, a helpline for children and youth, was established 24 years ago. In 2013, counsellors answered a total of 24.782from children and youth, out of which 6.491 were followed by counselling and are part of analysis.

Throughout Children’s Week, SAFY will organize a number of leisure and entertainment programs for children in all major towns across Slovenia. The program of activities on the occasion of Children’s Week is available on the SAFY website.

Media contact:
Iris Furlan
+386 1 2396 720