On the day that iconic statesman and political activist Nelson Mandela would have been 100 years old, former US president Barack Obama gave a speech in Johannesburg in his honour. Obama reiterated Mandela’s legacy of universal freedom for all and pointedly mentioned the role of young people.
Mandela and Obama are two of a handful of statesmen who’ve acknowledged society’s debt to children. This blog shares some famous lines about children:
Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States said:
“Children are our most valuable resource.”
Mandela poignantly asserted: “Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
Mandela knew then that the reduction and prevention of crime and violence in South Africa depended on the early investment in children, when their neural pathways to form attachments and create empathy are at their most malleable. Creating safer spaces is not only technical and an engineering problem, but something that begins with nurturing and loving children.
Mahatma Gandhi, a spiritual leader and an enduring symbol of peace, said: “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
Einstein knew about the power of reading to children: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Swedish-American poet Carl Sandburg noted that “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
The wonderment and delight of children is captured best by the African proverb: “No one shows a child the sky.”
Cotlands loves this by Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build a strong child than to fix a broken adult.” And this is an inspiration for the work Cotlands does: its caregiver support, its play-based learning, its toy libraries and its critical advocacy for children.