Monthly Birthday Celebrations Builds Children’s Self-Esteem, Independence, and Brings Affirmation

What is one of the most memorable days for a child? Birthdays, without fail, stir up excitement in any child. Ask a child how he or she would like to celebrate a birthday and the child will quickly think of what can be done to celebrate, who will be invited, and what food he or she would like to eat.

At the Spasskiy orphanage, one volunteer quickly realized that the children's birthdays were not celebrated all the time. It depended on the teachers—if the teacher believed a child needed a birthday, there would be a celebration. If the teacher did not, there would be no celebration.

Immediately, one of Allies in Youth Development’s volunteers had a great idea. “The idea of birthday celebrations once a month was born right away!” the volunteer exclaimed. They got to work quickly and drew up a list of children with upcoming birthdays.

“There were five boys with birthdays this month. Together with volunteers, we baked six cakes,” the volunteer said.

A special room and program was prepared for the event in order for the children to feel loved and special. This kind of affirmation, which does not come easy nor is common for children at an orphanage, is essential in building a healthy sense of self for the child.

The children were also encouraged to invite their own friends. Learning to create and keep friendships helps a child grow in wisdom and self-esteem.

The birthday celebration was also used to help children exercise decision-making skills and independence. These two skills are often absent in orphanages because the adults often do it for the childand provide no opportunities for development. The children were asked to prepare elements of the celebration as part of the exercise.

“The atmosphere was really festive. We really wanted the children to remember this celebration for a long time. After the festivities, we said something special about each birthday child, and at the end we all sang a song,” the volunteer said.

Just like any child’s birthday, the blowing of the candles on the cake was a key moment in the celbration. “It was important that each child couldget to blow the candles on his own birthday cake,” he added. This practice reminds the children they are loved, special, and also just like every other loved and special child in the world.

The volunteer concluded, “The children did not hide their emotions. Artem, who turned 13 years old, said it was the best day of his life. We are so grateful to all Allies supporters for the gifts you have collected and sent to children with so much love. Thank you for the opportunity to organize such events for the children!” You are truly empowering life change in these children!