Be the change

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On Friday 11 September, I was reminded of events 14 years ago when two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York.

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Professor Cathy Nutbrown

Many will remember the shock of that day - and where they were when they heard the news - when the world changed. In recent days, the media has highlighted the plight of thousands of people escaping fear, hunger and war in their homelands. Many early years settings will soon be welcoming children who are newly arrived, seeking a refuge in Europe. And as these children and their families begin to settle, they will bring change, difference, challenge and possibility to the places where they live and the settings children attend.

And change is something that is inevitable if we are to move forward to create a better world for every global citizen, and early years practitioners can be part of that positive change.

As Dr Seuss wrote:

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any

Direction you choose.

Thinking and action must change if we are to hope to build a peaceful world and, as I have written in this column before, peace begins in homes, families and early years settings.

Young children are, by their very nature, peace seekers and it is our job to support them in resolving conflicts and challenging wrongs. They will grow up to be adults who have responsibilities and so early experiences of living and learning in a climate of peacefulness and negotiation will be important foundations.

And to do this children need to learn to co-operate, not fight; to share, not divide; to love, not hate; to hope, not despair; to welcome, not shun. Those working with children must demonstrate positive attitudes to the challenges and possibilities that face us as new families are welcomed to the country.

The lobbying of politicians to create change is important, but so too is the action of individuals working with children. Every act of welcome is significant, and each newly welcomed child will make a difference. Mahatma Gandhi advised thus when he said: 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world.'

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