Every year, the European postal administrations jointly issue a series of stamps on a common theme. The theme for this year's two EUROPA stamps is "Integration, from the point of view of children and the young".
The two stamps featuring children's drawings are the result of a competition for pupils at painting schools across the country. The stamps tell of how children can create friendships across the boundaries of cultures; all you need to do is give friendship a chance.
Successful integration in the school
The Danish schools and educational system play a key role in the integration of children and young people of non-Danish ethnic backgrounds. It is vital that the children get off to a good start. If children grow up in families who lack knowledge of the Danish school system, they may need special support to develop the necessary social and cultural skills. This may for example take the form of language teaching, which makes it easier for the children to relate socially to other children.
Successful integration often requires that the children's parents are familiar with the school's work and activities. Accordingly, many schools make efforts to involve minority culture parents in the co-operation between the school and the home. Some schools have so-called parent days, inviting parents to see what goes on in the course of a normal school day. For parents, these initiatives help them to feel more confident in their co-operation with the school, and better able to support the school's activities, while for the children, the initiatives are important in the long run, particularly in relation to their future educational and employment prospects.
Integration via sports and association activities
In Denmark, there are a wide range of organisations which perform sterling work to promote the integration of children and young people, such as sporting organisations, children's and youth organisations and humanitarian organisations.
By participating in local sporting and leisure time activities, children and young people can develop their social skills. From the point of view of integration, it is important that newly-arrived children and young people take part in the existing association activities, and thereby come into contact with other children and young people. The Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs, in co-operation with the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF), Danish Gymnastics and Sports Associations (DGI), and the Danish Youth Council, has established a trial scheme aimed at getting more children and young people of non-Danish ethnic backgrounds to participate in local sports and recreational activities.
Personal contact between people is a key point, if integration is to succeed. In the context of both school and leisure activities, children have an opportunity to form friendships with each other across the boundaries of cultures. Genuine friendship can help break down prejudices, and at the same time create the mutual understanding and respect that is the basis for integration.