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UNICEF’s 2001 paper Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic

As we peek out tentatively from behind the variant-laced pall of COVID, the world must seize every opportunity to bring a renewed focus on our children who may have suffered the most ill effects of pandemic restrictions and isolation.

Let’s use World Children’s Day on Sunday, Nov. 20, to turn our sights toward helping the young. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) marks the day by focusing on the macro aspects of advancing and protecting children’s rights and improving their lives. Let us take a micro view to find our own meaningful way to help children find their voice.

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The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly acknowledges children’s social and economic rights — to education, to health care, to an adequate standard of living for proper development and to play.

Since our 2010 founding, the Old Bridge-based KiDz HuB Media Network has involved as many as 15,500 children — teens and “tweens” — in five countries to drive radio and television programming as junior broadcasters and junior production techs.

Our shows and other programming — most silenced and others severely curtailed by COVID restrictions — aim to teach collaboration and team-building across diverse communities and borders. We partner with local, national and international organizations, schools, media professionals and volunteers to create a safe media space for youth.

We equip children with the ability to evaluate the media and other communications content that they consume, as well as give them the tools to be their own content creators and take responsibility for the message. Properly empowered, these children can spark their own social change, especially in the current environment where content creators control so much of the social-media messaging.

Studies show children want their voices heard.

In UNICEF’s 2001 paper Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making,” child-rights consultant Gerison Lansdown wrote, “Similarly, the principle that childhood is a period of entitlement to special protection — from abuse, neglect and exploitation — is not new. While these rights are flagrantly violated for millions of children, in most societies in the world there is a broad consensus around the importance of working toward their greater recognition.”

The paper also said it was time to introduce “an additional dimension to the status of children by recognizing that children are subjects of rights, rather than merely recipients of adult protection and that those rights demand that children themselves are entitled to be heard.”

We agree.

As 2023 draws near, we have renewed our pledge to our mission, and have set out to rebuild our network’s broad strengths and the involvement of youngsters.

It’s time to reinvigorate production in our sponsored Roselle studio and the utility of our broadcast trucks to bring new opportunities for our youth to have a voice. This will help our longtime U.S. and Jamaican “Hubbers” renew and broaden their video and radio programming skills. Over 5,000-plus Jamaican and Caribbean students have been trained, some of whom have joined our U.S. teams in conducting and broadcasting athlete interviews and coverage from the Penn Relays since 2012.

We also engaged more than 1,500 students in Australia and Germany pre-COVID, and they and others in Canada are yearning to get back to creating their messages.

A day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would step aside, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York launched a history-making bid Friday to become House Democratic leader — which would make him the first Black person to helm a major political party in Congress.

In a letter to colleagues, Jeffries gave a nod to the “legendary figures” before him: Pelosi, the first female speaker in U.S. history, and her leadership team. He encouraged his fellow House members to embrace a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to unleash their “full potential as a team.” And he pledged to draw on the diverse Democratic caucus as it works within a divided Congress and seeks to win back the majority that House Republicans narrowly seized in the midterm election.

“The House Democratic Caucus is the most authentic representation of the gorgeous mosaic of the American people,” Jeffries wrote.

“I write to humbly ask for your support for the position of House Democratic Leader as we once again prepare to meet the moment,” he said.

A new generation wasted no time preparing to take their place. Along with Jeffries, Reps. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of Redlands — who have worked together as a lower-rung leadership team — swiftly wrote to tell colleagues they were seeking the second- and third-ranking positions in House Democratic leadership. Jeffries and Clark are in their 50s, and Aguilar is 43.

The southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only provincial capital captured by Russia since it invaded in February, is back in Ukrainian hands, though Moscow’s forces are still close enough to remain a menace.

The outburst of joy over the reclamation of Kherson — one of the most significant Ukrainian victories of the nearly 9-month-old war — is tempered by punishing hardships that still haunt the city: hunger and shortages of medicine as well as scant electricity, running water and communications.

Criminal and forensics investigators are rushing to document evidence of executions and torture, digging up bodies and coaxing traumatized witnesses to come forward. Already, case files are open on hundreds of suspected war crimes. Victims of torture haltingly recount their ordeals. De-mining teams are fanned out across the city and plying muddy fields in outlying former front-line villages, where wrecked military and civilian vehicles line battered roads.

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