Mary introduces ‘Buddy Bear’ to Denmark’s children: Looking radiantly pregnant and sporting a new hair-style, Crown Princess Mary continues to be very active as she prepares for the birth of her second child, due in May. And as ever, HRH’s fashion choices attract plenty of attention. Mary’s latest fashion statement is the shoulder length‘pob’ – a longer variation of the popular ‘bob’ – ﬁrst seen at a children’s charity event in the Danish capital. Onlookers also noted that the Princess’ pregnancy bump is progressing nicely. A new look signalling that the effervescent Tasmanian is in high spirits.
Childhood in all its manifestations is understandably high on Princess Mary’s agenda at the moment and HRH has linked up with an Australian children’s programme to help Danish kids deal with that perennial childhood problem – bullying. ‘Better Buddies’ teaches children to care about other children and, whilst Danish children at elementary school age are already made aware of bullying and the need to be considerate to others, the Australian developed programme targets younger children.Mary’s enthusiasm for ‘Better Buddies’ had seen her agree to become the international patron for its developers the ‘Alannah and Madeline Foundation’, an Australian based charity that works to keep children safe from violence.The foundation was begun after a notorious tragedy in Tasmania in 1996 in which a gunman killed thirty ﬁve people, including two small children – Alannah and Madeline Mikac, aged six and three, along with their mother. The girls’ father, Walter Mikac, Phil West and a small group of volunteers, subsequently set up the foundation, which was endorsed by the Australian PrimeMinister John Howard, who is also a patron.
In his book, ‘To Have and To Hold’, Walter Mikac describes the Foundation’s origins and aims: “When it’s my turn to address the crowd, I tell them that the idea for the foundation came from another Melbourne father, Phil West, who just like me had two daughters. He had been looking at their drawings on the fridge when he thought of the idea of setting up a foundation to help ease the suffering of all these children . . . To me this illustrated how an ordinary person can make a difference and it is an ability that is in every one of us. Mary saw the programme and how well it worked during a visit to a primary school in Melbourne as part of her work for Danish ‘Save The Children’, which is one of the patron charities of Crown Prince Frederik. She was sufficiently impressed and wanted to see if it could be introduced to Denmark.”
Mary introduced ‘Buddy Bear’, the mascot of‘Better Buddies,’ to Denmark’s children at a kindergarten called Bumblebee in Hellerup in the municipality of Copenhagen, where she also gave a speech: “Far too many children are bullied by mates in kindergarten and in school, and it is a severe stress for these kids. Bullying can ultimately mean that kids become socially isolated. Until now most work against bullying has been focused on older school children in Denmark. Research and experience from Australia indicates that we need to focus our efforts at a much earlier age. The sooner the better, with far fewer consequences for the individual and for society . . . The purpose of the project is to create good relationships and solidarity between the children. The ambition is to create good child communities in the kindergarten environment, which is then later taken to the school environment. As a mother I am obviously engaged in the subject. I can’t bear to think that my son would be exposed to bullying or would bully others. We all have a responsibility as parents and teachers to teach our children to create communities – and to make the children’s lives free of bullying.”