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Space for correspondence is necessarily limited. Communications containing suggestions, serviceable
intormation, criticism, and anything likely to be of general interest or value should be condensed into a shoit letter. Writers must in all cases give their name and address, although not necessarily for publication.
THE CHILDREN'S YEAR. SIR,-I have pleasure in sending you a copy of a letter received from the Prime Minister. The matter to which it relates being of the utmost importance, I am taking the liberty of sending you a brief statement of the objects for which the Children's Year Movement has been instituted and regarding the progress it has already made. May I ask for the favour of your sympathetic support to this effort to promote the welfare of the young ? The following is the letter which the Prime Minister has addressed to me as President of the National Sunday School Union :
DEAR SIR.-I have the very greatest sympathy with all your efforts to promote the physical, intellectual, and spiritual welfare of the child, en and young people of the nation. I hope that the success which will crown those efforis will set its seal on This year as Children's Year, and that the new ideas which are everywhere dawning will be use:) to give such a fresh understanding to the children of this generation as will make them worthy heirs of the freedom their fathers are now fighting for.
D. LLOYD GEORGE.
is being introduced for the attainment of this object, and no financial aid is being solicited. Voluntary agencies which are already seeking to promote the health, education, and religious training of the young, and to equip them for worthy citizenship, have expressed their sympathy with the Movement and have promised their co-operation. Most of the principal religious bodies are giving the effort their cordial support, and the practical problems to which it directs urgent attention will receive special consideration at their annual and other meetings this year. It in unsectarian—the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Presidents of the various Free Churches, alike express their profound conviction of the vital importance of making right use of this solemn time for the upbuilding of the new generation upon whom our destiny depends; it is non-political; its demand is universal.
T. VIVIAN-REES, President of the National
Sunday School Union. 56, Old Bailey,
London, E.C.; and 60, Park Place,
The object of the Movement is to endeavour to rouse the nation as a whole to bring to bear upon our children and young people every influence that will tend to promote their physical, intellectual and spiritual welfare, and to inspire them with high ideals of character and duty. It will make its appeal not only to parents, teachers and social workers, but to everyone who in any way, however small, may be able to render service either through an organization, or directly to an individual child, and will thus seek to combine all the available resources of the nation in a supreme effort to protect, guide, and ennoble the young life which is hourly becoming more precious to the nation and to the race. No new machinery
A STANDARD OF CHILD
WELFARE. SIR,_Lord D'Abernon, Chairman of the Board of Control (Liquor Traffic), in his recent remarks before the Society for the Study of Inebriety, and at an address delivered at the Royal Institute of Public Health, has indicated how maternity and child welfare has been increased by the control of factors and influences making for indulgence in alcohol.. The facts and figures now available lead me to venture to set down a proposal that for some time has been shaping itself in my mind. It is based on the conviction that the liquor traffic is one of the agencies producing a State's youngest citizens. Such a scheme for promptly and effectually improving the physical standard of life in localities with the highest infantile mortality would at the same time so change social conditions as to diminish the adult craving for drink and the encouragement of drunkenness. It would emphasize the State's assertion of the responsibility attaching to local authorities, by placing larger powers in their hands of securing normal chances of healthy life for all in their areas. It would give tremendous impetus to official and voluntary co-operation in every movement making for social improvement. One can scarcely imagine any locality placed on the “black list” declining to use fuller powers in coping with the enemies of child life, and in such a remote contingency the State would exert its central powers to put an end to the intolerable wrong of allowing children in any part of the land to start their struggle for life with such small chances of
far lower standard of social conditions than should be tolerated by the State, and that these adverse conditions press most heavily upon child life. That this is so is shown conclusively by Sir Arthur Newsholme in an article in the January issue of the Nineteenth Century. It should be possible to arrive at some practicable rule for estimating the social standard below which the State would forbid any community to live. The test must be such as is not readily susceptible to external influences. For instance, the crime, drunkenness and Poor Law statistics would be unreliable for that purpose, as they may be raised or lowered to some extent by national or local will without any corresponding change in the real conditions. The infantile death-rate appears to me to be perhaps the most reliable index of the physical, moral and social life of a locality. My proposal is that any borough or county council having in any ward a death-rate, say 10 per cent. above the average infantile mortality of the country, should be scheduled as containing a dangerous or infected area. There are obviously certain deadly influences work that need to be checked, or there is an absence of adequate provision of the means of life. Upon the scheduling of any area prompt measures would be taken by the Government to compel the local authority to act, or to assist it in so doing by penalties or grants, and by entrusting to it increased powers in dealing with causes. Such action would include housing and sanitary reconstruction, adequate provision of open spaces, baths, · water, milk and food supply, maternity and infant welfare centres and clinics, &c. These social improvements, however, would be discounted just in proportion as the liquor traffic was allowed a free hand. No new municipal provision would be complete which was not supported by drastic powers for exercise by central and local authorities, corresponding to those of the Liquor Control Board; the unchallengable assumptions being that the drinking habits engendered by the licensed trade aggravate all the evils inducing the swollen death-rate of infants, and that the liquor traffic has only a moral right to existence when it is so conducted as not to interfere beyond a recognized limit with the inherent right to life of the
EVENING PLAY CENTRES. SIR,- This year I make my appeal bn behalf of the London Evening Play Centres, to your readers who have supported us in the past, with even greater confidence than last year, for, as many of them know, a new and important milestone has been reached in the play centre movement. In January, 1917, after twenty years, our work received Government recognition, and our centres have since earned their first Treasury grant-the full 50 per cent. grant, in itself, I am justified in claiming, a sufficient testimony to the “adequacy and efficiency” of the work. The Board of Education are now pressing for a wide extension of the play centre movement; our office has been flooded with inquiries; representatives from educational authorities from all parts of the country have been visiting our centres, and in very many of the large industrial towns—in Bradford, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Carlisle, Bristol, Manchester, Salford, and Birmingham, to name a few of them-play centres have already been established, or are about to be established, either by the local education authorities themselves or in co-operation with existing voluntary organizations. But we cannot rest at this point. I look at our superintendents' reports for the last week of November, and find that at our twenty-six London centres we had an attendance-an entirely voluntary attendance, remember !—of 53,351. With sufficient financial support we could double it in a very short time. My superintendents send me this week a number of cases, typical of thousands that we are now coming across in the centres. The father killed in the War, the mother out at work till seven, the children either locked up at home or roaming the dark streets till the mother comes home. I went myself to see a centre in a very poor part of North Kensington a few weeks ago.
It was a very foggy night, and as I reached the school gates a group of boys sprang out of the darkness. “No good !” said one of them disconsolately to the rest; “ all full up !” We are not allowed-and quite rightly-to fill the rooms beyond their proper capacity; but when I got into the crowded school hall and found a capital drill of some hundred boys going on, succeeded by a dumbshow performance of Cinderella, watched by a spellbound audience of children and mothers, I felt very sorry for the little lads out in the cold fog, who were too late. Had there been another play centre at a neighbouring school, perhaps no one need have been shut out. A few weeks ago a small boy was observed outside the Tavistock Place Play Centre stooping down to try to see through a chink into one of the pleasant basement rooms in which play centre games were going on. “I thought I might just hear the music," he said wistfully. “ It's full ! " The moral is—more play centres! What the existing centres are doing to humanize some of the most undisciplined children in London and to help grief-stricken widows and wives to bear their burden I cannot ask you, in war time, to give me space to tell.
But let me emphasize two facts: (1) Only half our expenses are
paid by the Government grant. The Council only gives us the use of its school buildings free of all charges for rent, heating, and lighting. (2) For every £ 100 we can raise from the public who care for children the Government will add another £100, so long as they are satisfied with the efficiency and economy of our management, which I think we may assume, after our long experience. £1,000 of fresh money subscribed in the vear would mean eight new centres, with from 7,000 to 8,000 more children brought under play centre influence. Each centre -which is open forty weeks in the year, five nights a week, and Saturday mornings-costs from £250 to £300, somewhat more now than before the War, in spite of war economy, because of the extra cost of all equipment and material. We have already opened five new centres since the grant was made, and could immediately open five more if money were forthcoming. But whether we can do this must depend on the support given us. And we have our old centres to keep up and extend. We want at least £1,000 to carry us safely through the winter, an.' if we are to start the new centres urgently asked for this sum ought to be £1,600 or £2,000. Any sum, large or small, however, will be gratefully received and acknowledged, and should be sent to me at the address given below. The centres and the accounts are open to inspection at any time on application to the Secretary, Play Centre Office, 36, Tavistock Place, W.C.1.
MARY A. Ward.
GIRLS' PATRIOTIC UNION. SIR,-Encouraged by the success of a combined effort made by the Girls' Patriotic Union on behalf of the Star and Garter Home, which resulted in a subscription of over £5,000, some of the schools belonging to the Union have expressed a wish that a subscription shall be invited this winter for four recreation huts for sailors, soldiers, airmen, and the mercantile marine respectively. The minimum cost of each hut is £600. It is intended that the huts shall be used after
the War for the activities of country and village life. The Patroness of the Union, H.R.H. Princess Mary, heads the subscription list. Three hundred and ninetyfive schools, private and public, day and boarding, already belong to the Union. Through the hospitality of your columns we would invite all the secondary schools in the kingdom to join us, and to share in the pleasure of contributing to a joint subscription from schoolgirls, to show their appreciation of the splendid work and sacrifices of those who are fighting and sailing the seas in defence of our country. Subscriptions should be sent to the Hon. Treasurer of the Union.
F. R. GRAY,
St. Paul's Girls' School,
Brook Green, W.6;
Grey Coat Hospital,
(Hon. Secretaries.) FLORENCE GADESDEN,
Blackheath High School,
children, we would urge the following
dent, Mothers' Union.
Senior Physician to Victoria Hospital for Chil
dren, Chelsea. MARION VAUGHAN, Medical
Officer, West Islington
RATIONS FOR CHILDREN.
SIR,-In view of the ever-increasing importance to the nation of a sound and healthy race, we feel it our duty to draw attention to the following grave defects in the proposed rationing for children : The diet is lacking in the essentials for normal and complete development at an age when mental and physical growth are specially rapid, and education becomes increasingly difficult to underfed children. The fat and meat rations being insufficient for the needs of rapidly growing
WAYS AND MEANS.
Under this heading descriptions are given of preparations and appliances, new and old, likely to be
of service in the study and management of child life. Every care is taken to procure reliable notices based upon practical knowledge. In this way trustworthy information is available regarding the work or inventors and the products of manutacturers, which it is believed will afford valuable guidance to all engaged in the care of infants and the protection and education of children.
and hospital work, but should be appreciated by scouts, girl guides, munition workers, combatants, and indeed all sorts and conditions of active people. The
STITCHERY. · The Stitchery Annual,” Vol. v, edited by Miss Flora Klickmann, and published by the Religious Tract Society, has just been issued and is a handsome, well-illustrated, and thoroughly practical volume which all teachers and others responsible for the initiation and conduct of artistic and serviceable handwork will do well to secure. The annual contains Nos. .17 to 20, inclusive, of the quarterly Stitchery, which appears as a supplement to The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine. This excellent needlework periodical is full of admirable designs, explicit directions, and helpful notes. A copy of the annual should be available in every school and accessible for all mothers and daughters. The price is is. od. net, post free 2s. 2d.
Students of stitchery should procure copies of the practical booklets issued by Messrs. J. & J. Baldwin and Partners, Ltd., of Halifax. Part II of “ The · Busy Bee' Knitting and Crochet Book," by Marjory Tillolson (price 7d., post free 9d.), contains directions and diagrams for the making of garments for grown-ups, and in these difficult war days such a manual will prove invaluable.
A new and enlarged edition is now available of “ Woolcraft : A Practical Guide to Knitting and Crochet” (price 2d., post free 2 £d.). It contains reliable instructions regarding the use of knitting wools in the production by hand of serviceable garments for everyday wear.
THE HOOK TIN,