page is background information, last updated in May
2002 and still available for reference. For the latest on
the Special Session on Children, please go to the Special
More than 94 million 'Say Yes for Children'
NEW YORK, 7 May 2002 - Young delegates at the closing ceremony
of the Children's Forum today praised the huge number of pledges
raised by the 'Say Yes for Children'
campaign. More than 94 million people, most of them children
and young people, have promised to support key actions to
improve the world for children. In a ceremony that followed
the official closing of the Children's Forum, Barron Hanson,
a 12-year-old delegate from Australia, presented the tally
to Mr. Nelson Mandela and Mrs. Graça Machel, inspirational
leaders of the Global Movement for Children,
which has given impetus to the 'Say Yes' campaign.
"We want you to know that 'Say Yes for Children' has
turned out better than you could ever have expected,"
Barron told the audience. "It's about so much more than
just numbers, and this is what we hope you tell the leaders
of the General Assembly. In fact, we hope you tell our story
to everyone you meet. Tell the leaders that the lessons of
'Say Yes' are that millions of people are expecting leadership,
looking for leadership and ready to support leaders who are
committed to children. Tell them, please, that this is the
first step of a long journey that we are ready to make with
The 'Say Yes for Children' campaign supports 10 priority
actions to change the world so that children everywhere will
enjoy their right to health, peace and dignity. It was kicked
off in April 2001, when Mr. Mandela and Mrs. Machel said 'Yes'
over the Internet. The number of pledges is still growing.
There are amazing stories behind the numbers. In Kazakhstan,
3.5 million students, parents, and teachers pledged on one
day. One in every four people in Turkey and one in every five
people in Jordan have made pledges. In Guinea, a village chief
moved his pledge drive to an indoor market when children insisted
that he keep going even though it had begun to rain. In war-affected
countries such as Afghanistan, UNICEF staff were able to collect
pledges despite often dangerous and tense circumstances. In
Italy, firemen promoted 'Say Yes' in pizza parlors across
the country. And in Peru, 800,000 children turned out for
a special 'Say Yes' voting day in schools.
Ms. Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
accepted Barron's challenge to those present to help muster
the leadership necessary to change the world. "You're
really inspirational," said Ms. Annan. "We adults
speak those words that our hearts would have us shout: We
cannot waste our children, not another one, not another day."
The ceremony ended with a performance by a group of rap artists.
"In a world that's out of tune, we can hear a melody,"
they sang. "It's the children of the world that we're
here to represent. All over the world, peace to every girl
and every boy."