Arigatou International, Global Network of Religions for Children

Arigatou International, Global Network of Religions for Children

Arigatou International is dedicated to securing the well-being and rights of children and advancing the culture of peace through interreligious dialogue and cooperative action. It provides a values-based platform for implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by mobilizing faith-based initiatives for children in support of the United Nations commitment to child rights and the Millennium Development Goals. The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) is a global-scale interfaith network of organizations and individuals specifically dedicated to securing the rights and well-being of children everywhere. GNRC members come from all of the world’s major religions and many other spiritual traditions. They share a commitment to making the world a place where every child can enjoy not only the right to survive, but also to thrive, making positive contributions of his or her own to a world of peace and dignity for all. The GNRC was inaugurated in May 2000 by the Arigatou Foundation, an NGO in special consultative status with ECOSOC of the United Nations, and the Foundation continues to support its work today.

Current Projects
Arigatou International has launched and currently sustains three major initiatives:

Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC)
The GNRC is the leading global interfaith network devoted to working for child rights and other children's issues. Its membership and partners include a diverse group of religious leaders, faith-based organizations serving children, development workers, and UN agencies such as UNICEF and UNESCO. The GNRC was founded in May 2000 and it conducts region-wide and local programs to improve children's lives in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and South Asia.

GNRC Youth
Inspired, motivated and willing to make a difference in their societies -- these are some of the characteristics of the youth involved in the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC). Many participated in the workshops held to develop Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education, carried out by the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children. GNRC Youth have become a strong voice within the GNRC as a whole and in their local communities, even nationally. Arigatou International is committed to empowering youth to help shape the GNRC and to equip them with knowledge, attitudes and skills for the powerful work they do among their peers.

Joint GNRC-UNICEF Study
GNRC is involved in a joint study project with UNICEF titled Children in World Religions. The study project aims at assessing how the child, children and young people are portrayed in religious scriptures, are cared for, are ministered to and are treated in religious communities and how young people view themselves in their religious context. The study will provide information as well as tools and material addressing how religious communities relate to and can contribute to the implementation of the CRC. The overall outcome is envisaged as both a resource and an advocacy tool for a multitude of constituencies, most importantly for religious communities, religious and faith based NGOs and for UNICEF country offices. Several products will emanate from the overall outcome, including a manual with information for advocacy initiatives, leaflets on specific issues and ideas for discourses on specific issues.

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Ethics Education for Children
The ethics education initiative was first announced at the UN Special Session on Children in May 2002. Next , the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children was established to discern the strategies for promoting ethics and values-based education in diverse educational settings as well as in the home. The first priority set by the Council was the development of a practical resource for conducting interfaith ethics education.

The result, Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education, was developed jointly with UNESCO and UNICEF in a series of rigorous field-tests in diverse socioeconomic, cultural and religious settings around the world. Learning to Live Together is a set of tools for educators and youth leaders around the world that employs a new interfaith and intercultural learning process to empower children and young people to develop a strong sense of ethics.

Learning to Live Together is designed to help children and youth to better understand and respect people from other cultures and religions and nurture a sense of global community. The manual uses interactive and experiential methodologies to develop innovative and critical thinking in participants, to nurture non-violent behaviors and to empower children and youth to become agents of change.

Through workshops involving children and young people from different religious and cultural backgrounds wherever possible, the new ethics program seeks to help youth to empathize with others, encouraging greater individual and collective responsibility and fostering a spirit of reconciliation. It provides a vehicle for youth to encounter and examine values with their peers from different religious, cultural, and social backgrounds, and to apply what they learn to the real challenges of their daily lives.

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World Day of Prayer and Action for Children
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children seeks to bring together people of religion and goodwill to safeguard the integrity, rights and dignity of children and promote their wellbeing. It is made possible by a partnership among the world's religions, faith-based groups, secular organizations and people of goodwill committed to building a world fit for children.

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children takes place every year on Universal Children's Day, November 20, which is also the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On that day, all over the world, prayer services accompanied by one or two common, measurable actions for the survival, development and protection of children are encouraged.

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