Celebrating World Children’s Day: Our commitment to provide for, protect and encourage children to participate
November 20, 2020 is the 61st anniversary of the World’s Children’s Day, which commemorates the Declaration of the Rights of the Child that passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on November 20, 1959. The rights of children have evolved and transformed since that historic day. In 1989, the UN put in place the Convention on the Rights of the Child to expand upon the Declaration and formulate a series of specific provisions further define these rights. They fall into three pillars:
- The first pillar are the rights that provide for basic needs such as:
- health care
- food and nutrition
- education, and
- the social services needed for optimal growth and development.
- The second pillar is a dedication to the provisions that protect. This protection includes the need to protect children from harm, including:
- child abuse and neglect
- domestic violence
- bullying and the protection from being trafficked
- child labor
- child pornography and more.
- The final pillar is to allow children and youth to participate in matters that affect their lives and families.
The Department of Pediatrics at Hennepin Healthcare not only celebrates World Children’s Day but tries to infuse its principles in all that we do. The Department consists of over 50 pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners and several hundred staff in our hospital, clinics, and emergency room.
We provide state of the art, 21st century medical care that address the health care needs of the diverse population of families we serve. The care is provided in a culturally and linguistically sensitive way with the support of professional interpreters in over 70 languages that highlight the international makeup of the families we serve. It does not stop there. Our food assistance programs help provide healthy meals for families facing food insecurity and hunger. The literacy program in partnership with the national program of Reach Out and Read provides at no charge, over 10,000 age and developmentally appropriate books in multiple languages to enhance reading readiness. Our social workers and financial counselors are here, too, serving the community of families we are privileged to have as our patients.
The care is designed to protect the children that we serve, by strengthening parenting capacity and the communities that keep families safe. This protection expands further with our commitment to immigrant and refugee families with children, a population bearing a too heavy burden of trauma and forced separation.
Finally, we allow the children we see to participate by making sure that we listen to their voices directly each time we see them. For the infant, we listen to their cry or their laughter and try to understand what they tell us. For the child we hope to learn if they are being bullied or harmed in any way and how they are doing in school, especially during this time of disrupted usual school routines. For the adolescent, who in confidence shares with us their healthcare needs and areas of concern or confusion, we strive to reassure that we will do all we can to partner with them to achieve their health and personal goals.
Caring for our children into the future
This year, the City of Minneapolis became a pilot as a UNICEF Child Friendly City, one of three in the United States. Working with our city government as well as the schools, parks, libraries and community partners, our goal is to not only celebrate World Children’s Day but to bring to a more true reality of the vision that our city, state, country, and world cares for all our children, free of discrimination and with a welcome embrace.
About the authors
Dr. Diana Cutts is proud to serve as Hennepin Healthcare’s Chief of Pediatrics, working with, and inspired by, an amazing team of providers and staff, who care for an equally amazing and inspirational community of patient families. A general pediatrician with special interest in the growth and nutrition of young children and the public policies that best support children and their families, Dr. Cutts credits her four children, now grown to adulthood, for the finishing touches of her training.
Dr. Charles “Chuck” Oberg is a pediatrician and a member of the Department of Pediatrics since 1985. He formally served as the Chief of the Department (1997-2002) and as the Deputy Medical Director of HCMC and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs for Hennepin Faculty Associates. He is also a Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota and is a renowned clinician, educator, researcher. Dr. Oberg is an outspoken advocate for children’s rights and the needs of vulnerable children both within our community as well as globally. In 2017, he worked with refugee children in Lesvos, Greece at the Moria refugee camp and then throughout northern Jordan including the Al Zaatari Refugee Camp. Most recently, in 2018 and 2019, he helped launch a telehealth initiative for Community Health Workers to improve access to physicians and hospitals in rural Tanzania sponsored by WellShare International.