According to the World Health Organization, exclusive breastfeeding is the optimal way of feeding babies for the first six months of their lives. Breast milk is packed with nutrients that a newborn needs to grow strong and healthy, and fight off illness and infection. In regions where water sources are often contaminated and medical clinics are few and far between, nothing beats breastfeeding. Yet women giving birth in one of the world's poorest regions must often overcome immense obstacles to breastfeed.
There's no question that sports can play a critical role in boosting girls' self-confidence and determination. Many of us have known the girl who claims to be "totally uncoordinated," only to score the winning point for her basketball team. Or the shy, uncertain child who had trouble speaking up in class and now kicks butt in karate. Here's a photo gallery of the transforming effect sports can have on girls, no matter where they live.
Study after study indicates that parents, schools and community members all have a role to play in developing caring, ethical children. But how do we do that in a way that's less about layering on the duty and obligation? How do we nurture a child's own instincts about what's needed in the world, and help them find their own unique way to give?
On this World Refugee Day almost four million Syrian refugees, equivalent to the populations of Toronto and Montreal combined, are far from home and wondering if they will ever return to the life they knew. The Syrian crisis is the largest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, and its impact is being felt disproportionately by the millions of affected children.
High atop a mountain, several hours' drive from the nearest tiny village, a young mother named Ganga went into labour. It was just days after the massive April 25 earthquake, and thousands of Nepali families were afraid to go inside their homes for fear the buildings would collapse in an aftershock. Ganga laboured publicly for two full days.
Luisa spends most of her life on a sweltering treadmill, just to help keep herself and her family alive. It's amazing to think that while we take every precaution to make sure our children stay safe and well hydrated on our hikes and walks, there are children whose very lives depend on their making long, dangerous walks.
On Mother's Day, I look at my kids and think how blessed I am. Not just because I've had a chance to raise them, with all of the love, pride and fun that brings to my life. But because doing so has been a joyful experience. I've been able to nourish them, keep them warm, and send them off to school in the morning.
Life in Nepal is nowhere near returning to normal, and will not be for many years to come. If your house and place of business had crumbled to the ground, and you were sleeping under a tent in the local park, croissants and gasoline wouldn't mean much -- especially if your children were coping with emotional distress like the children in Nepal.
I imagine there are many moms out there like me who don't want big gifts or a ton of fanfare. But they still want to feel special. I don't really want any one 'thing' for Mother's Day. This may sound sentimental, but it's the truth: I want to relive memories, I want to hear how much I mean to my family, and I want to feel loved.
You'd never know it to look at me, but more than 40 years ago I started a global movement. After seeing the devastating images on T.V. of children starving in Ethiopia, my heart was broken. My friends and I didn't think we could do anything, and casually proposed the idea at our young people's group of doing something and having it be a weekend event where we went hungry.
According to an Ipsos poll, when shopping for clothes, 76 per cent of Canadians feel stress that they're paying too much for something while just 59 per cent are concerned about child labour. With the sun shining brighter every day, I plunged into my sons' closets last weekend, in search of spring clothes that would still fit them. Sitting there, sipping, I thought of another little boy, one whom I hadn't seen in a while. His name is Jewel.
This past year, I became your mother. As I watch you grow I'm amazed by the things you are learning, and the unique and spunky little person you're becoming. Already, I see you picking up so much from me and others around you, including the good, the hilarious and the not so great. I realize just how much of an impact I am having with the example I set.
On World Health Day, I feel especially protective of the millions of children around the world whose circumstances force them to consume food and water that puts their health and lives at risk. I see that the World Health Organization has picked "Food Safety" as this year's theme for the day, and can understand why.
The truth about chocolate is tough to swallow. My heart aches for the two million children, mainly in West Africa, who work on cocoa plantations. Far too many of them toil under slave-like conditions, forced to handle dangerous chemicals, and swing machetes sharp enough to maim. Most are paid next to nothing. Some are abducted from their homes and forced to work for free without the opportunity to go to school, forfeiting dreams for the future.
This Sunday is World Water Day. We're pretty lucky in Canada -- we don't really have to think about fresh water. When we need it, we turn on the tap and it's there. In summer we can jump into it and run through it. In winter we can glide over it or build it into sculptures. There are many amazing Canadians who refuse to take this gift for granted.
An eight-year-old girl, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, is someone I know only from a photograph. I was captivated by the girl whose schooling was so critical to her, that she grabbed her report card while fleeing the rocket attacks on her home town. That was two years ago. I've been unable to find any recent updates on Jouri.
Canadians travelling to warm spots this March Break may be approached by child labourers selling trinkets or souvenirs. In El Salvador, this young girl carries heavy basket of water bottles to peddle to tourists. So what should Canadians do, if they encounter a child who seems to be in danger? Many of us are so concerned about misreading a situation, or imposing our own Canadian views on another way of life, that we do nothing. We may comment about how sad the situation is, and then move along.