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The following are remarks delivered by Larry Vellani, executive director/chief executive officer of Smart Start of Forsyth County, Inc., to participants of the International Symposium of Specialists for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children.


In a first for Larry and a Smart Start executive–at the local or state level–Larry prepared and videotaped brief professional greetings to participants of the International Symposium of Specialists for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children.

My name is Larry Vellani; I am the director of a private, NGO, serving families with children birth through the age of 8 in the city of Winston-Salem in North Carolina.

It is my privilege to welcome the participants of the International Specialists’ Forum for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children, organized under the theme: “METROPOLIS: THE TERRITORY OF CHILDHOOD.”

In each country of the world, children are the most precious, valuable aspect of the human experience. And the work to protect the human rights and the legal interests of children is a duty of all, but a profound calling for people like you and me.

Protecting the rights of children, and securing the quality of their future, remain perhaps the most important global challenges of our time. Our children are our future. And their cognitive, social, and physical development define and control the development of human society.

At this time, it is without debate that no individual country can claim the role of supreme leader or shining exemplar in the work of upholding children’s rights.

In every country, even where citizens may enjoy a level of economic security, too many families suffer under the toxic stress of poverty, contributing to infant mortality, abuse and neglect, and juvenile delinquency.

Our ever-more, interconnected world makes it impossible to meaningfully address those problems at a national level. Our only hope, our only path forward is to ignite and unite the efforts of the world community.

Truly effective efforts to promote the protection of the rights of all childrenrequire a system of mutually-agreed upon actions by state and non-governmental organizations with the goal of integrating internationally-recognized concepts of the rights of children within national laws and regulations.

During the 20th century, the world community made great strides in international law promoting and enforcing children’s rights. Beginning after World War I, and later, with the United Nations, the world community established important international statutes and protocols, AND the organizations to train and monitor the advancement of children’s rights. Such actions and supporting organizations include: the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1924; the United Nations’ Social Commission, the United Nations Children’s Fund; and, in 1990, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to name but a few. Today this international system of law, covenant, and protocol helps to coordinate the work of professionals and volunteers in many countries working to protect children and their rights.

Dear Forum Participants!

With sincerest collegial respect, I wish you inspiration, insight, and a deepening sense of professional trust and solidarity! I wish for you the opportunity for intellectual struggle leading to professional growth AND the strength to delve deeply, transparently into our common challenges and opportunities to advance the rights of children in your countryin my countryin every country. May your hard work increase the opportunities for parents and guardians to help children succeedfamilies thrive, and communities prosper in each and every corner of every nation!

Thank you for your passion and commitment. Together we can help change the world for the betterfor our children, and the children of our children!

Good luck!

Larry Vellani

Larry Vellani is the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of Smart Start of Forsyth County, Inc. (SSFC), an eight-million dollar, community-based, early education service and policy organization in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.