Take a child to the theatre today - campaign 2014

Nelson Mandela famously said, “We understand and promote the notion that while children need to be guided, they also have an entrenched right to be whatever they want to be and that they can achieve this only if they are given the space to dream and live out their dreams.” ASSITEJ believes that theatre creates the perfect spaces within in which children can dream and live out their dreams.

Mandela’s notions about children were central to who he was as a person and a leader. In Mandela’s interactions with children, we saw the depth and breadth of his humanity revealed. His playfulness and capacity for humour and joy, his respectful attitude towards children that took seriously their points of view, his fierce belief in the value of education as the most powerful tool we possess, his determination to always find time for children even when in the presence of world leaders and his commitment to children through the ongoing work of his charities, was a hallmark of his legacy.

As theatre makers creating these “spaces to dream”, do we approach our audiences with the same level of humility, respect, playfulness, belief in their capacities and humour that he demonstrated? And more generally, do we ensure that children – ALL children, regardless of class, race, language, or any other factor – are given sufficient and sufficiently excellent dreaming spaces?

2014 is the 25th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It's the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history. And yet, while most nations have signed the convention, how many truly take these rights seriously? How many of them understand the implications of Article 31, the right of all children “to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts”? How many of them invest in making these rights a reality?

But this is not just the responsibility of nations. It is in our power too. On March 20th, the World Day for Theatre for Children and Young People, ASSITEJ invites everyone to participate in our ongoing “Take a Child to the Theatre Today” campaign.  YOU can make a difference to the children and young people with whom you come into contact. Give them a space to dream, bring them to the theatre or take the theatre to them, but make that magical contact happen!


As Mandela has said, “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”

Yvette Hardie, President of ASSITEJ International