How can you be a Revolutionary?
United Nations Special Session: Say Yes For Children

By: Sara P. Chavarria

Time: 2 days
Materials: 8 _ by 11 inch sheets
Magazines for images
Overhead with Engagement excerpts


The United Nations serves many roles and one of the most prominent is to ensure that everyone has equal and fair access to a safe and nourishing life. Inequality is more obviously seen by how it affects children. When children are undernourished and dying due to disease, starvation, or other abuses, the adult world has been remiss in ensuring that equality exists. This activity is meant to showcase this perspective of the child. It will also provide a means of ‘voice’ for the students when they participate in a United Nations vote: the Say Yes For Children poll.

Students will be able to:
1. Students will identify their priorities in human rights for children by taking part in Say Yes for Children.
2. Students will suggest solutions through a verbal visual vocabulary poster.

Standards (NCHS)
NCHS Era9: The 20th century since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes
Standard 2: The search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world
Standards in Historical Thinking
5E – Formulate a position or course of action on an issue.

Resource Websites



1. Read the following Excerpts from the Special Session on Children – May 8-10, 2002
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his opening statement to the General Assembly, addressed the children of the world. "We, the grown-ups, have failed you deplorably,…"
he said, adding, "One in three of you has suffered from malnutrition before you turned five years old. One in four of you has not been immunized against any disease. Almost one in five of you is not attending school…. We, the grown-ups, must reverse this list of failures."

Carol Bellamy, UNICEF Executive Director, echoed his concern for the need to accelerate progress for children. "If we want to overcome poverty and the instability it breeds, we must start by investing in our young people," she said. "I implore national leaders to seriously examine their records on children. Are you getting all your children into the classroom? Are you protecting all your children against disease? Are they safe from abuse, exploitation and violence? Unfortunately, we already know the answers. We know we have work to do."

2. Ask students: What seem to be the common themes mentioned by the UN Secretary-General and the UNICEF Executive Director.
- Obvious answers: adult failure, malnutrition, immunization, limited education access, poverty, disease, abuse, exploitation, violence, etc.

3. Write down the words in your notes in descending order. Next to each word the class will write words that describe the opposite. Take one at a time and have students share ideas. List on overhead as they offer words.
-Possible answers:
adult failure – adult aide, respect
malnutrition - healthy lives, medicine, better sanitation, affordable health care
limited education access – ensure education access for all
poverty – enough food, place to live, health care access
disease – enough medicine, better sanitation, affordable health care
abuse – protection laws
exploitation – labor laws to protect,
violence – laws that protect against rape, death, physical abuse

4. Background Note: This special session was one of several that have taken place and continue to take place every year as part of the United Nations purpose. The United Nations has many responsibilities that all revolve around bringing all nations of the world together to work for peace and development, based on the principles of justice, human dignity and the well-being of all people. Included in all of this are a group of people that don’t have a legal voice in most countries – the children. By meeting at this special session, the world was reminded that children need to be protected by the adults in their worlds. In this session a specific list of 10 imperatives was the outcome.

Like this class just did, the UN Session worked on creating a list of imperatives that would address these oversights towards children for a more positive outcome. Share them with the class.

5. Have students write down the UN special session’s 10 imperatives for children in their notes.
1. Leave No Child Out
All forms of discrimination and exclusion against children must end.
2. Put Children First
It is the responsibility of everyone – governments, individuals, non-governmental organizations, religious groups, the private sector and children and adolescents themselves – to ensure that children's rights are respected.
3. Care for Every Child
Ensure all children the best possible start in life.
4. Fight HIV/AIDS
Protect children, adolescents and their families.
5. Stop Harming and Exploiting Children
Violence and abuse must be stopped now. The sexual and economic exploitation of children must end.
6. Listen to Children
Respect the rights of children and young people to express themselves and to participate in making the decisions that affect them.
7. Educate Every Child
Every child – all girls and boys – must be allowed to learn.
8. Protect Children from War
No child should experience the horrors of armed conflict.
9. Protect the Earth for Children
Safeguard the environment at global, national and local levels.
10. Fight Poverty
Invest in Children Invest in services that benefit the poorest children and their families, such as basic health care and primary education. Make the well-being of children a priority objective of debt relief programs, development assistance and government spending.

6. Assign an imperative to each student and have them create a Verbal Visual Vocabulary poster for it. This entails dividing a sheet of paper into 4 parts as follows:

Imperative and description Why is this necessary?
Visual to accompany article (illustration) How can the imperative be met?

7. Attach vertically and in order as on the UN list. Post around the room. Students will enjoy seeing their work and the work of other classes.

8. Mention: These 10 imperatives were put on-line so that people, including children, could voice their concerns. Individuals were asked what their 3 top concerns were so that the UN could compile a list of how important all of these imperatives are. The project was called Say Yes for Children.

9. It’s the student’s turn: Ask them: Will you say yes for children? Will you empower yourselves? Homework: Have students go to the following web page and say yes to children.

10. Next Day:
Ask: How many of you were revolutionaries yesterday? How many of you Said Yes to Children?

Embedded Assessment

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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