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Saturday, August 28, 1999 Published at 23:16 GMT 00:16 UK


Campaign to celebrate children

Children should be encouraged to play, says UNICEF

Parents are being encouraged to spend more time with their children this weekend as part of a campaign for an official Children's Day.

Charity Unicef says mothers and fathers have a special day and there is no reason children should be left out.

It has designated Sunday World Children's Day and is celebrating with a series of events and a call for parents to make a special effort to play with their children.

Research shows that, because of work pressures, many fathers spend as little as four hours a week with their children.

Home Secretary Jack Straw recently said he knew of one father who spent 18 minutes a week with his child.

Britain has the longest working hours in the European Union.

The day will also focus on the plight of children around the world. Any money raised will go to education projects in Kosovo.

Unicef says the government pledged to institute an official national children's day in 1954 every September, but nothing ever came of it.

In July, Cherie Booth, the prime minister's wife, launched the organisation's campaign for a special day.

Nearly 150 other countries have a children's day.

"Ideally it should be over the August bank holiday," said a Unicef spokeswoman, "just before children go back to school."


British Airways has agreed to pay for a free two-hour Concorde flight.

On board will be pop band 911 and a group of children, including those nominated by the airline company for their courage in the face of tragedy or illness.

[ image: Concorde will make a special flight for World Children's Day]
Concorde will make a special flight for World Children's Day
Unicef is also laying on a street theatre group at the Notting Hill Carnival in London.

The London-based group Rise Phoenix which has worked with traumatised children in Kosovo will put on puppet shows during the breaks in a seven-hour performance by funk band Blue Foot.

The Unicef spokeswoman said: "In Kosovo, because of the language problems, the group used colour, movement, laughter and funny faces to cheer up the children and also put serious messages across.

"For example, they raised awareness about landmines by telling children not to pick them up and how to mark the area."

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