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2013 Child Rights Award Winners

Children’s Rights Trailblazer: Play It Fair!

The Play it Fair! Program provides innovative, easy-to-use tools and activities to bring children’s rights into day-to-day interactions, behaviours, and play in a classroom, a day camp, or after-school center.  Equitas International Center for Human Rights offers this program in partnership with over 430 local organizations to benefit more than 400,000 children across Canada.  Training and activities promote confidence, self-esteem, and children’s capacity to contribute to their community. This program makes children’s rights accessible and helps those who may not consider themselves to be human rights educators see the relevance and benefit of integrating rights based approaches in their daily work.

Children’s Rights Supporter:  Dr. Traci Afifi

Research by Dr. Traci Afifi has fostered awareness of the harm that violence in the home has for children and has influenced change in policies and practices by families, organizations, and governments.  Dr. Afifi is an Associate Professor in Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, College of Medicine, at the University of Manitoba. Her work has been recognized in Canada and internationally. We particularly applaud her work in two papers: the first documents linkage between harsh physical punishment and a range of mental disorders and the second demonstrates a connection between harsh physical punishment and increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity. Dr. Afifi demonstrated courage in taking on the controversial topic of physical punishment and providing clear evidence of the harm done to children both in their formative years and in later life.

Children’s Rights Supporter:  Dr.  Joan Durrant

 For more than 20 years Dr. Joan Durrant has dedicated her life to protecting children from all forms of physical and mental abuse through research and public education. Her innovative program known as “Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting” has helped parents move from violent punishing responses to understanding the harm of physical punishment and developing the skills to use a non-violent conflict resolution approach. Her successful program has been implemented in more than 20 countries.  Dr. Durrant is a Child-Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor of Family Social Sciences in the Faculty of Human Ecology at the University of Manitoba. Those who work with her make reference to her knowledge, leadership and ability to inspire students, parents, professionals, agencies and governments with the goal of preventing violence against children and promoting their healthy development. Dr. Durrant’s skill in translating academic research into everyday language makes her a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter. The Coalition is particularly impressed with the close alignment of her work to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly Article 19.

Children’s Rights Champion: Katherine Kavassalis

As a Toronto family lawyer with the Office of the Ontario Children’s Lawyer (OCL), Katherine (Katina) Kavassalis has devoted almost all of her thirty-year legal career to advancing the rights and protection of children and youth within the child welfare and family law systems. She is the director of the Personal Rights legal department at the OCL where she manages the office’s province-wide family law program, helping thousands of children every year in custody/access and child protection proceedings. Through her child representation work, Ms. Kavassalis has ensured that hundreds of children have had voices in decision that will deeply affect their lives. Her approach to child representation exemplifies the principles enshrined in Article 12 of the Convention which says that the views of the child should be respected. Her case work has also directly changed the law in order to better promote children’s rights.

Article 12 Award:  Voices, Manitoba Youth in Care Network

Voices is a network of young people who have been in the care of the Manitoba child welfare system. Its goals are to empower and support youth in care and as they leave care. The Network provides a unique opportunity for young people to share their stories and to ensure that their voices and opinions are heard. A Garbage Bag Fashion show, sponsored by Voices was a fun event that was inspirational to young people because it provided a very visual example of how they sometimes feel: that they are treated like garbage and at the same time it showed how garbage bags could be transformed into something beautiful.