This story was reported and written by KNOM reporter Ava White.
Kawerak’s Child Advocacy Center celebrated National Children’s Day next to Nome City Hall on Friday, June 16.
The event followed the week-long Gnome Rainbow Rock Hunt in which rocks were painted and hidden around town. The rocks were all hand painted by organizer Jennifer Dean-Johnson.
Children who participated in the Gnome Rainbow Rock Hunt had the opportunity to bring their found rock to the event to claim a prize. A total of 25 rocks were hidden around town.
Dean-Johnson said National Children’s Day was started in 1856 by Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard in Massachusetts. Dr. Leonard intended for the day to be dedicated to baptizing children, calling it “Rose Day.”
“Knowing that all kids can participate, that’s always been a big, big thing for the (Child Advocacy Center),” Dean-Johnson said. “Regardless of economics, where they live, any of that, if you’re here and you want to participate, no matter what your age group or your background is, and you don’t have to have a tribal affiliation, it’s is just welcome to all.”
Children at the event were excited to attend, some having questions of which activity to do first, like one little girl who said she was looking for face painting.
“Sandra! Sandra, can I please get a face painting of a butterfly?” she said.
President Bill Clinton proclaimed the day as “National Children’s Day” to be celebrated in October. President George W. Bush followed, declaring the first Sunday of June to be National Children’s Day. In the United States, National Children’s Day is celebrated throughout the month of June, depending on your city.
National Children’s Day is celebrated worldwide to celebrate the lives of children, the challenges children face and promote togetherness. The National Children’s Day event had activities for kids such as face painting, rock decorating, seed planting, and more.
“One of the things that Nome has always complained about is that we don’t have enough constructive activities for kids,” Dean-Johnson said. “We have Midnight Sun, but most of those activities are geared towards adults. This is just about having an activity that’s for children.”
Dean-Johnson said it’s important to hold events for the community that are child-inclusive and bring the community together. She emphasizes the importance of children knowing safe adults and getting familiar with resources available.
“We are here to support them and to do things and champion kids,” she said.
Dean-Johnson added that Nome has prolific traumas and that traumatized kids lead to traumatized adults. She said by meeting safe adults, they are exposing available resources to both children and their families.
Image at top: Children and community members gather next to City Hall to celebrate National Children’s Day on Friday, June 16. Photo by Ava White/KNOM