MACTAQUAC (GNB) – Students from four Fredericton-area schools will be joined by Christian Whalen, acting child and youth advocate, at Mactaquac Provincial Park on June 1 to celebrate International Children's Day.

Children from Park Street Elementary School, Connaught Street Elementary School, Barkers Point School and Wulastukw Elementary School will be honoured for their participation in the Young Leaders program.

"It is important that we recognize the rights that all children hold as young citizens," said Whalen. "As we celebrate Disability Awareness Week in our province, I call on all New Brunswickers to commit to ensuring that all children fully enjoy their right to participate, and play, in their communities."

The Mactaquac event will involve various team-building activities to build trust and friendships among students from the four schools.

Established in 1925 at the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, International Children's Day is celebrated in many countries. The day raises awareness of issues such as child abuse and exploitation and also celebrates children and their inherent rights as human beings.

Young Leaders, designed for students from kindergarten to Grade 5, is intended to inspire children to focus on local and global challenges by developing and celebrating the leadership qualities in young people. Through different levels of contribution, students can work on personal character development while improving the lives of others in the community. Students experience the benefits of volunteering in their community, physical activity, developing their skills in an interest or hobby, participating in school activities, and demonstrating their leadership qualities.

The program, supported by Whalen and Lt.-Gov. Graydon Nicholas, was launched last year at Park Street Elementary School. Building on that success, educational leaders in School District 18 developed a six-week pilot in which students at the three other schools also participated.

"It is heart-warming to see teachers, family and communities in New Brunswick take such care to foster the leadership capabilities of our young people," said Jon Crossland, a former physical education specialist who created and introduced the program. "Even our kindergarten students can demonstrate compassion and empathy for others, which in its own way is a leadership quality that should be celebrated."