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The 30th July marks the International Day of Friendship. This was a day created in 2011 by the UN General Assembly, to celebrate the ideas that ‘friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities’.

To mark the day, I would like to share some of my favourite quotes from children on the power of friendship, and how valuable friendship is to them.

In The Big Ask, the largest ever survey of children that I launched last year, over 13,000 children mentioned the word ‘friend’. The responses to The Big Ask show just how important and formative friendships are to children and young people. Children also told us that seeing friends was one of the main reasons children were so happy to be back in school after the pandemic. Many children described how they thought their friends were as important as their family, and how many saw their friends as an extension of their family.

Children said that having a good community of friends is one of their key wishes for the future:

“Best friends are good to have throughout your life” – Girl, 11.

“I think that a lot of children want to be happy, more friends, good family…” – Boy, no age given.

Children spoke about how friends help them to feel safe and empowered:

“I think that some children get put down from bullies and low self-esteem on themselves. They need good friends and family to help them feel safe and happy again and make them believe in themselves” – Girl, age 14.

Children understand the impact of good friendships on children’s life chances. One child said:

“I think that peer pressure and other people stops a child from achieving what they want because very little comments can make a huge, negative impact on somebody’s life. On the contrary, complimenting someone can nudge them a lot closer to a successful and happy life. So I always tell my friends or myself when I have said/done something wrong and make them/myself apologies [sic]. I have seen that it makes a massive difference” – Child who did not give age or gender.

Another child spoke about the impact of friendships on her education:

“Family and friends can also affect education and lifestyles but I have a great relationship with my family and have really nice friends” – Girl, 12.

A teenage boy explained this link, showing how important attending school is to see his friends:

“Seeing my friends keeps me happy, and that in turn helps me learn if I’m happy. Not being able to see my friends as much [during COVID] is proving to make me less happy” – Boy,13.

I hope you get to celebrate this day by doing something fun with your friends, and maybe even doing something new and making a new friend! Happy International Day of Friendship.

This word cloud shows the top 100 words used by the children that mentioned ‘friend’ in The Big Ask Survey, with the largest words being the most frequently used.

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