It’s another person’s Child, be a Busybody! By A.LLY, written for Fei Yue Community Services, Singapore, as part of the #ProtectAChildToday campaign.


As parents, how often do we think of raising children other than our own? And in the context of Singapore, there is an innate fear of being labelled as “Kay Poh” (busybody) even though the intention is out of pure sincerity. We are connected in more ways than just through the internet.

All of us play a role in children’s lives

Are you that employer who implemented flexible work timings? Are you that family member who offered parents time away? Are you that person who gave your seat to a child on the train? Or are you that person who resorts to yelling and violence just to get your way? Are you that person who looks away in the face of child abuse? Every policy an employer undertakes, every decision parents make, and every social interaction that takes place are woven into the fabric of children’s lives. So yes, that’s you! Every day, you leave a mark on children’s lives and every day is a chance for you to recognise that we all play a role in children’s lives. Living in this common space, we hold the responsibility to contribute to and shape the kind of space we want to live, work and play in; this is the same environment that a child grows in.


Your children are MY future too

Not just my children, but your children make my future too! It is well understood that children who are raised in loving and safe environments grow up to become productive, successful and loving adults. They develop life skills, attitudes and aptitudes that allow them to help their community and contribute to their country, and on the personal front, they hold more potential to achieve success academically and financially. Staying competitive in the global economy is important and it is up to our children to do that in the future. What can we do for them? Give them the opportunity for healthy growth and development in a safe and loving environment.


(To read more, please follow the link below…)

Growing up Maori in NZ: My daily experience of racism at school, playing rugby, at University and at the shops, by an anonymous 18 year old young man


I was 9 and it was the middle of religious education at our state primary school when a lady told our class that God didn’t love the Tuhoe people because they were terrorists. I still remember that day because I wanted to cry I was so angry. I knew she was lying. So I walked out of her class and went to the office and told them I wasn’t going to go to religious education anymore. The teachers rang my mum and she came in and told them that neither me nor my brother were ever going back to religious education.

Sometimes kids would say racist things and I used to try to ignore them a lot. I played rugby for our town and there were some boys in my team who’d call us racist names. One day at training a boy called me a dumb N***** and I had enough and ran at him and punched him.

Well I got in huge trouble. The coach had heard it all but told me it was all my fault for reacting and I need to just ignore it, as usual he never told off the boys who said racist things. I walked off and was crying. My Dad came out onto the field and told off my coach. My coach kept trying to blame me but my Dad told him he was useless and shouldn’t let the other boys abuse us and then expect us to take it.

It was around this time me and my cousin used to be picked on by a group of boys at our school. They’d say racist things about us and we refused to take it, we fought back. Teachers didn’t really do much, we were told to ignore it but it’s hard to ignore someone giving you a hiding. At lunch they’d just chase us and fight us, sometimes 10 to 2 so it was never a fair fight.

One day my cousin left some 4 x 2s in the bushes. He never told me what he’d done but that day at lunch when they were all chasing us he shouted at me to follow him to the bushes. We ran out of the bushes with these pieces of wood and all the boys who’d been about to bash us started screaming and running away. They were very fast and we didn’t even hit any of them. We ended up in the principal’s office and we were the ones in big trouble not the boys who’d been bullying us for ages.

My Dad came in and he argued with the principal and told him that if the school couldn’t guarantee our safety then our family would send in people to the school to make sure we were safe. He meant it and so from then on the school made sure the bullying ended. I left soon after to go to another school anyway and I remember being terrified as I was going to a much bigger school and assumed the bullying was going to be way worse. But when I got there the culture of the school was great and there was no bullying like what we had gone through.

When I started college I didn’t know why but I kept getting put into woodwork and metalwork option courses that I’d never signed up for. I had won an academic scholarship in Year 9 and ended up getting excellence in NCEA 1, 2 and 3, but for a while someone there decided I needed to do a trade. There is nothing wrong with tradie work, I actually love it – that’s what I do during the holidays – but it’s unfair to look at me and decide: Oh yeah OK, that brown kid he can do woodwork even though he asked to do Financial Management.


After I got excellence in Year 11, me and a mate got an invite to start going to meetings for excellence students. Well we turned up and the lady asked us what we were doing there because this was a meeting for excellence students. A lot of the Pakeha kids who were there started giggling at us. I can’t remember what we said to her but she never really welcomed us into her meetings. I’ve got to admit we paid no attention in her meetings. A few more times when we’d turn up she’d look at us and ask if we were in the right place. She never remembered our names. We were the only Maori and Pasifika boys there.

Over the years I’d get used to having to defend everything Maori, during class discussions other kids would argue that the Treaty is racist or that Maori scholarships are racist.

Once I got up to say that my scholarship came from my tribe not from the Government and someone shouted out “Hone Harawira” from the back of the class. Being a Maori kid in a mostly Pakeha world, yeah. You’re often put on the spot whether you like it or not. One minute you’re defending your tribe in class. Next minute you get told to lead the haka or speak at a powhiri for the school.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

Baby Loss Awareness Week

it’s “baby loss awareness week” again and we remember all our precious babies who came fleetingly into our world. “Baby loss”, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy, is very often unacknowledged, but is a very real grief. Like any death, this passing re-writes our futures and should not be minimised. Fortunately, most societies have now lifted the unwritten taboo on acknowledging babies who passed too soon.

The Forever Years

blaw-logo FY

Just a short post here, as we at The Forever Years wish to acknowledge “Baby Loss Awareness Week”.   Baby Loss Awareness Week takes place from 9th to 15th October every year, ending with “International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day” on October 15th. It provides an opportunity for parents, families and whanau around New Zealand to come together and remember the lives of their babies who have died. We acknowledge the lives and deaths of all babies, no matter what their gestation, length of life or how they died.

See links:

Heal FY

Oct 15th FY


Dads FY

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October 11th: International Day of the Girl Child (from the United Nations)

On 22 April 2015, children in classroom at the opening of a new education centre for Syrian children in Kahramanmaras. The UNICEF-supported education centre was built in partnership with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Ministry of National Education, with financial support from the European Commission.

On 22 April 2015, children in classroom at the opening of a new education centre for Syrian children in Kahramanmaras. The UNICEF-supported education centre was built in partnership with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Ministry of National Education, with financial support from the European Commission.

The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

The Benefits of Art for Kids, by Jean Van’t Hul


Everyone says art and creativity are important, but are you wondering what the actual benefits of art are for kids?

Today I’m sharing some of the many kids’ art benefits as well as a quote about children’s art that I just love.



The Artful Parent Book by Jean Van’t Hul


(Excerpted from The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity, © 2013 by Jean Van’t Hul. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.)

Educators tell us that art encourages fine motor skills, neural development, and problem-solving abilities and that it can be used effectively to teach and understand other key subjects such as reading, writing, math, and science. Therapists tell us that art is valuable because it allows children to process their world, to deal with sometimes scary emotions in a safe way, and because it gives them critical sensory input. Artists tell us that art is important for its own sake—as a source of beauty and expression, as well as simply for the process of creating. Kids tell us that art is fun, an activity they enjoy. Parents tell us that art is vital to their families because it keeps everyone engaged and happy and helps with the sometimes difficult transitions of the day. Art is naturally linked to creativity, an attribute that is increasingly being touted as one of the most important factors for the success of individuals, organizations, and cultures.


The truth is that art is vital, if somewhat intangible, and that if children engage in hands-on art activities, they learn much better in all disciplines. Here are some of the reasons why children thrive when they make art:

Art Promotes Creativity

Creativity is the ability to think outside the proverbial box, to string two unrelated ideas together in a new way. Solutions to major problems and breakthroughs of all kinds are linked to creativity. The ability to be creative is vital to the success of our children and the well-being of our world, now more than ever, as we face incredible challenges such as racial discord, wars, global warming, and mass extinctions. Individuals, organizations, and governments seek innovative solutions every day. According to the International Child Art Foundation, “Research indicates that a child who is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property—key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twenty-first century.” The world needs more and better thinkers.

Art Encourages Neural Connections

Art is an activity that can employ all the senses—sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste—depending on the activity. Children’s brain synapses fire away as they experiment and create, squishing paint between their fingers, mixing colors and materials, or drawing from imagination or what they see in front of them.


Art Builds Fine Motor Skills

Gripping a paintbrush, drawing dots and lines, mixing colors, cutting with scissors, controlling a glue stick or squeezing a glue bottle, kneading and rolling play dough, tearing paper—all of these tasks require increasing amounts of dexterity and coordination, yet they are so fun and rewarding that children want to do them over and over. As kids engage in art activities over time, their fine motor skills improve.

Scribbling is a Precursor to Writing

Babies and toddlers begin by scribbling randomly, back and forth. The more they scribble, the more they are able to control the crayon and its movements across the paper. As children learn to control their scribbling, they make a wider variety of shapes, eventually making all the shapes necessary to write the letters of the alphabet—any alphabet.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Part of her “Forever Years” spent in a Nazi Death Camp: Miracle that saved a girl from Auschwitz gas chamber, by Paul Ewart


Yvonne Engelmann was just 15 when she was rounded up with her family and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, one of the network of German Nazi extermination camps operated by the Third Reich in Poland in World War II from 1940-1945.

But it was an unlikely miracle that saw her survive to tell the disturbing tale.

After arriving at the camp, Yvonne was immediately sent to the gas chamber. Thanks to some strange twist of fate, it malfunctioned and she was left naked in the chamber overnight before being freed.

By some miracle, the Nazis kept her alive, and she was sent to sort through the clothes of newly arrived Jews to find any gold or valuables they’d hidden.


The infamous German inscription that reads ‘Work Makes Free’ at the main gate of the Auschwitz I extermination camp on November 15, 2014 in Oswiecim, Poland. Photo / AP

Her “job” saw her stationed in between the crematorium (which burnt 24-hours daily) and the gas chambers. She ended up being the sole survivor from her entire family, and made a new life for herself in Australia.

“I was 14 and a half when war broke out,” Yvonne tells

“I wasn’t allowed to go to school, I couldn’t walk on the street, I had to wear the yellow Star of David and couldn’t mix with any non-Jewish people. Friends I’d grown up with now totally ignored me, solely because I was born a Jew.

“My father was taken to the police station many times and we never knew if he would come back. One day he returned and his front teeth had been knocked out. We lived in fear constantly – we had no idea what would happen to us in the next hour, let alone in the next day.”

Born in Czechoslovakia to shopkeeper parents, Yvonne was an only child.

“I had the most wonderful childhood that anyone could wish for, but unfortunately it was short-lived.”


Yvonne Engelman says as a survivor of Auschwitz it is important to perpetuate the memory of those lost and volunteers her time to teach and “tell the world what really happened”. (Photo Source: Sydney Jewish Museum)

In the limbo of uncertainty, things went from bad to worse. Her parents’ shop was taken away and the family was forcibly removed from their home to a cramped Jewish ghetto.

At the approach of her 15th birthday, she and her family were taken from the ghetto – along with hundreds of others – to the railway station where they were piled into dozens of cattle wagons.

“Men, women, children, screaming babies – the journey was too horrific to even describe,” she recalls.

“There was no ventilation, it was hot, an overflowing tin bucket was the only toilet … we were stripped of our humanity.”


A wedding photo of holocaust survivors Yvonne (nee Engel) and John Engelman, 1949, Australia

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

See also related post:

7 Ways to Build Stronger Connections with Your Kids (Even When You’re Busy), by Kathryn Trudeau


Dr. Harley Rotbart, author of No Regrets Parenting, reminds us that there are only a mere 940 Saturdays from your child’s birth day until the day he or she turns 18 years old. Nine hundred and forty. That’s it. The statistic is enough to make you start planning family outings and picnics from now until 2026.

But… I have a complaint. Nine hundred and forty days is not nearly enough to bond and create enough memories to last a lifetime. As parents, we are blessed with 6,570 days from birth until the age of 18, why not take advantage of each and every one of those days? Sure, the weekdays are busy, crazy, messy, and loud, but that’s no reason to relegate all the bonding to just Saturdays.

Here are seven ways to build stronger connections with your kids, even when you’re crazy busy:

Reading together.

Studies consistently show that reading to children promotes healthy brain development and improves literacy skills. Reading, however, can be as much of a bonding experience as a learning experience.

Try to carve out at least 10 minutes a day to read together. Even reading a short bedtime story can do wonders for reconnecting with your child during a busy workweek. Have a pre-teen or teen? Let them choose a chapter book and read it together, even if it’s just a few pages per night.

Connect at bedtime.

With babies and young toddlers, parents often fuss over finding the perfect bedtime routine to get baby to sleep, but bedtime is just as important for older children too. Bedtime is a great opportunity to reconnect with your kids, especially after a busy day.

As you tuck your child into bed, give him or her an extra hug or cuddle. Hum a lullaby that reminds your child of when he or she was a baby. Listen if your child has any last minute stories or questions.

It’s all too easy to rush bedtime in order to have a few minutes of peace to ourselves – believe me, I know. But some of the best moments of the day are hidden in the soft, sweet moments between awake and slumber.


Both parent-instincts and science tell us that loving touch is important. From building self-esteem and boosting brain development, gentle caressing or loving touches can also help build connections with our kids. Touch is extremely easy to sneak into busy schedules.

  • Exchange a secret handshake as you pass each other in the hallway.
  • A hug first thing in the morning, before departing each other, upon reuniting, before bed.
  • A kiss on the forehead as you serve dinner
  • Cuddling together on the couch as you unwind with a show at night (or… a book).
  • A pat on the back for a job well done.

To read more of this article, please follow the link below…

7 Ways to build Stronger Connections With Your Kids (Even When You’re Busy)

Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed


“This is impossible,” Emily, the mother of three boys, exclaimed. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to give my kids more technology or less.” Emily felt paralyzed because she was caught between digital-age parenting advice and what her heart told her was right.

Online articles claimed that children need freedom with gadgets, but she knew a number of teens who spent their lives on their phones, spurned their families, and suffered from emotional problems. Emily was also dubious of promises that devices are the key to kids’ success, as she knew more than a few game-obsessed 20-somethings who still lived with their parents and showed no signs of being productive.

The Surprising Science of Raising Happy, Healthy Kids

In meeting with parents like Emily, I acknowledge the confusion about what is good parenting in the digital age. For guidance, I suggest looking to the science of raising healthy children. What it’s revealing is extraordinary: that even amid the trappings of our tech-obsessed culture, children’sconnections to family and school are still the most important factors in their lives. In other words, it’s time we get back to the basics.

There are other elements of raising healthy children, including engaging kids in creative and outdoor play, and showing them what it means to be a good friend. We also need to teach kids self-control and how to use technology productively. Yet, children are better able to acquire these abilities if they have strong connections with family and school. Children learn the value of nature when parents expose them to the outdoors. And kids acquire self-control, or grit, by persevering through challenging school assignments.

The Two Pillars of Childhood

Family is the most important element of children’s lives — even in this world of bits and bytes — because we are human first. We can’t ignore the science of attachment that shows our kids need lots of quality time with us. Such experiences shape children’s brains, and they foster our kids’ happiness and self-esteem, while diminishing the chances that they will develop behavior or drug problems.

Second in importance only to family is children’s involvement with school. Nevertheless, some question the value of traditional schooling, claiming that in the digital age kids learn best through exposure to the latest gadgets. But, according to the Pew Research Center, the value of a college education is actually increasing in recent decades, providing youth higher earning potential and significantly lowering their risks of unemployment or poverty. And how do colleges gauge admission? Not through high scores on video games or the number of social media friends, but instead by measuring kids’ understanding of the learning fundamentals taught in school, including the ability to read, write, and do math well.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed

The Dunedin Study: Early Indicators of Future Physical Health, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp


Continuing  our series of articles on findings discovered by the “Dunedin Longitudinal Study”

“Why do some people develop phobias and cancers, while others lead a healthy existence?  Why do some children grow up to be successful entrepreneurs or Nobel Prize Winners, while others become drug addicts and down and outs?  Are these things settled at birth, or is it a result of our childhood experiences?  This question has fascinated philosophers and scientists for thousands of years.”  — Opening lines of “The Dunedin Longitudinal Study” TV Programme.

The Dunedin Study findings are that diabetes, heart disease and infant mortality are all greater in number among children raised in poverty.  Dental issues, infectious diseases and meningitis are also more prevalent among these children.  Children raised in poverty are 3-5 times more likely to be admitted to hospital than children who are not from poor backgrounds.

Follow up studies confirm Dunedin Study findings: the overall life expectancy of children growing up in poverty is lower.   For those raised in South Auckland, the lower socioeconomic region of Auckland City New Zealand, life expectancy was shown to be seven years less than that of children raised in any other part of Auckland.  A similar study in Bayview, the poorer area of San Francisco in the USA, showed that children raised there had a life expectancy eleven years lower than those living in other parts of the city.

Street in Bayview, San Francisco. Source:

For many years it has been known that there is an obvious link between child poverty and higher levels of ill health.  Due to the precise nature of the information obtained and the 95% retention rate of participants, The “Dunedin Longitudinal Study” has shown this link even more clearly.  Not only do children in poverty suffer from health issues at a greater rate than their peers who do not live in poverty, but the ill health suffered by these children has lifelong effects.  This is true even for those who spent their early years in poverty but ceased, for whatever reason, to be poor in their adult years.


Growing up in poverty has “lingering effects” on physical health, according to “Dunedin Study” findings.    This is a new and very radical finding.  Children growing up in poverty are subject to stresses which, over time, create inflammation in their blood, study findings show.  Blood tests showed that study members who grew up in poverty and/ or those who were abused or neglected as children had the highest levels of inflammation.  Chronic inflammation permanently “weakens” health, leaving these individuals much more susceptible to diseases related to this inflammation.  In effect this means childhood stress can set up a lifetime of poor health.  Even for those who grew up in poverty, but become wealthy in adulthood, the physical effects of growing up poor can’t be changed.


The disparity between the lives of the rich and the poor is an increasing issue in developed countries.  The “Dunedin Longitudinal Study” has discovered then, that aside from effects such as economic disadvantage (including educational disadvantage) and a higher risk of becoming involved in criminal activity, long term physical health is compromised by poverty– whether or not the individual in question remains poor into adulthood.  Once again the importance of society investing in people’s early years is shown– we now have a scientific reason to invest in our children, it is more than just “a nice thing to do”.   Our childhood year are truly our “Forever Years”, emotionally and physically.


Press release: UN to examine New Zealand’s approach to child rights


Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley leads a New Zealand delegation to Geneva this week to report on the nation’s children and whether their rights are being upheld.

UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director Vivien Maidaborn is also in Geneva as part of the delegation and said the child rights’ agency welcomed Minister Tolley’s attendance.


“We support the Minister’s leadership and direct involvement in closing the gap between the Convention on the Rights of the Child and New Zealand’s patchy progress to achieve these rights, especially for Māori children.”

“Previous reviews by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) have been extremely critical of successive governments’ progress for children.”


Ms Maidaborn went on to say this was the fifth such review from the UNCRC but only the first time a minister had led the delegation.

Non-government agencies such as UNICEF NZ, Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa are also in Geneva for the review, alongside Judge Andrew Becroft, the Children’s Commissioner.

Ms Maidaborn said that alternative reports, written by community agencies and independent advisors, ensure the UNCRC committee can ask the right questions about government’s activities.

“It’s vital that non-government agencies are in the room to monitor what government tells the UNCRC. The transparency of the process couldn’t be more vital, both for New Zealanders back home and the international community at large.”


Save the Children, UNICEF NZ and ACYA recently supported young New Zealanders to make their views on child rights known. This resulted in a report published this week entitled Our Voices, Our Rights which will also inform questions UNCRC ask the New Zealand government in the exam.

The UNCROC Monitoring Group have felt that in the past only minimal effort has been made by government to consult with children. These consultations were often adult-led, based around specific policy purposes and didn’t include versions that were child friendly.

UNICEF New Zealand Child Rights Advocate Dr Prudence Stone said 1198 children from all around the country participated in the initiative and some of the findings were alarming.

“Thirty-eight per cent of children who participated didn’t know what their rights were. Only four children knew it was actually their right to know, and that government was responsible for ensuring they had this knowledge.”


(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)