Universal Children's Day 2021

Investing in our future means investing in our children — which is why the United Nations has designated every November 20 as Universal Children’s Day. It’s a time to promote togetherness around the world, awareness of the problems children face in every corner of the globe, and improve the welfare for all children. It began in 1954 and November 20 is also the date that the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, which came into force in 1990.

Article 29 of the Convention states education must develop every child’s personality, talents, and abilities to the full. It must encourage the child’s respect for human rights, as well as respect for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment.

In celebration of Universal Children’s Day, we are raising awareness on the importance music plays in a healthy childhood, and how we need to protect the rights and freedom to access music and music-making for all children and young people. Music has clear benefits for both the physical and mental development of children, but just how accessible is it?

Music tuition is sadly becoming out of reach for many households, with fees for music lessons, instrument hire charges or a combination of both being unaffordable for the families of many students. Concurrently music education through school is becoming harder and harder to access and rapidly deteriorating around the world.

What if there could be greater access to musical instruments?

Percussion Play’s vision is to give all children access to musical instruments in the great outdoors. By having musical instruments in outside settings, including parks, trails, gardens, library gardens, hospital grounds, children can have greater access to music and be offered a chance to create music and reap the physical and emotional benefits.

Marshall Cohen, LFLA Executive Director and Co-founder of the Lift For Life Academy in St Louis, MO explains why he decided to invest in a musical outdoor area and outlines the benefits they are experiencing:

'Based in a relatively low-income area, many of our students are not exposed to musical instruments at home, and therefore giving them a chance to play on real instruments during recess and lesson-times would benefit not only their musical skills but also impact their social, linguistic, and behavioral development.'

'Our students are often underserved and have often not been afforded the same musical experiences as others. These instruments allow them to not only create music but to create beautiful music which may lead them to be musicians of the future. Our outdoor musical instruments are helping our students create their own voice and space of creativity; they are continuing to push our students to achieve higher goals.'

Having instruments in outdoor settings not only democratizes music for children who might not be able to afford the luxury of music lessons and instruments but also for children who are disabled or have learning disabilities. Children who find it difficult to learn inside a classroom can benefit from learning in the great outdoors. Instruments set in an accessible open space mean there are no limits for children with limited movement.'

This type of musical play also ensures children spend time outdoors which encourages physical exercise. Playing outdoor musical instruments such as the ones produced by Percussion Play enables children to improve their gross motor skills because they are encouraged to use full-body movements as they jump, dance, and run from one instrument to another within the musical park. Playing outdoor musical instruments also encourages the use of fine motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination as the child has to hold a beater or mallet and hit the instrument in a specific place to make a sound.

Jody Ashfield, Founder, and CEO of Percussion Play says 'There’s an important role outdoor music has to play in democratizing music for children. We believe there is an opportunity for society to increase children’s access to music. Children all around the world should be able to create music in parks, playgrounds, and nursery settings. Creating music can’t just be for those who can afford lessons and instruments. By featuring music instruments in communities everywhere, we can encourage children to embrace a musical education and reap the rewards'.

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