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International Day of Families

UNICEF South Africa/Pirozzi
© UNICEF South Africa/Pirozzi
The focus of the International Day of Families in 2011 will be on how poverty affects families and what can be done to support families living in poverty.

9 May 2011 - The International Day of Families is an occasion to celebrate the importance of families to people, societies and cultures around the world. The year 1994 was proclaimed as the International Year of Families by the United Nations. This was a response to changing social and economic structures, which have affected and still affect the structure and stability of family units in many regions of the globe. Since then the International Day of Families has been held on May 15 every year. Everyone – from governments, NGOs and individuals – is encouraged to observe the day and to promote a better understanding of the challenges, needs and strengths of families.

The day focuses on families in all their shapes and sizes: from large families to single-parent households to families headed by grandparents.

The focus of the International Day of Families in 2011 will be on how poverty affects families and what can be done to support families living in poverty.

Celebrate International Family Day with some of these ideas:

For children:

  • Draw pictures of your family and share with them. It will make them feel really special.
  • Write a letter to some of your family members that are far away, for example your grandparents, uncles and aunts, or cousins.
  • Use photos and make a special family photo album or collage that you can put up where the family can see it (first ask for permission to use the photos).

For the whole family:

  • Make a collection of food and clothes that you can share with poor families. Your church, mosque or local welfare organisation can assist you with this.
  • Start a family fund that you can donate to a welfare organisation that works with poor families before the holiday season in December or before the winter starts.
  • Decide to spend time together as a family and tell each other how important your family is to you.
  • Tell stories about the family that are interesting, encouraging and funny to learn more about the value of family and the family history.
  • Visit family members that you have not seen or visited in the long time on Family Day.
  • Watch a DVD or video with a family theme together and talk about the families in that movie. Good ideas for younger children are Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, Yesterday (for older children). 

For educators and teachers:

  • Ask children to draw pictures in class that show their family. Let them tell the story about the picture and their family. (Be aware of different types of families that children may depict).
  • Let children write essays about their families, what they mean to them and interesting things that happened in the family. Let them share their essays.
  • Young children can make family cards to give or send to them in commemoration of family day.
  • Ask children to bring photos of their family and extended family and to tell the story of the photo in the class.





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