Stop the Press! Tranent children lead the way in defending children’s rights

25 April 2018 : East Lothian Council. See Article here

Tranent children lead the way in defending children’s rights

Two young children from Tranent have launched a series of workshops focusing on human rights that aim to inform, engage and listen to children across Scotland.

The first workshops in the ‘Children as Human Rights Defenders’ programme were delivered this week by Hannah and Cameron at Windygoul Primary School in Tranent.

Hannah and Cameron – who both attend the school – are Members of the Children’s Parliament (MCPs). They recently returned from Geneva where they took part in the first Children’s Advisory Team meeting to plan children and young people’s involvement in the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion (DGD), to be held in September 2018.

On their return, Hannah and Cameron worked alongside other children from East Lothian – some of whom participated in the 2016 DGD as part of the ‘StreetsAhead Tranent’ programme – to co-design and deliver the workshops that focus on human rights. The workshops ask participants to consider what human rights Scottish children feel need to be defended now and what children think adults can do to support children to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.

Cameron said: “The experience of being a helper to the children in the workshop makes me feel a lot more confident.”

Hannah said: “Today I’ve enjoyed explaining the activities to all the children. I’m looking forward to taking part in the other workshops!” and “I think it went really well – all the kids were smiling!”

Following the workshop at Windygoul Primary School, a further five workshops will be delivered by MCPs Anna, Alexander, Dylan and Emily to around 200 children in Inverness, Blairgowrie, Edinburgh and Benbecula.

As part of the programme, children will also host a national workshop for politicians both local and national, officials from local and national government and colleagues in the voluntary sector that invites them to consider what needs to be done in Scotland to improve children’s lives through a process that acknowledges, encourages and supports rights-based approaches.

All of the information gathered during the workshops will be analysed by the children who were involved in the workshops.  They will work with artists to create five giant ‘shields’ reflecting the key important messages that the children wish to share about children’s human rights. The shields will form an interactive art installation that will travel with the children for display at the UN in Geneva in September.

With new legislation in place requiring all public bodies to report on how they are furthering children’s rights, it is anticipated that the programme will re-ignite a national conversation about what Scotland needs to do to move towards becoming a country that values and cherishes its children and young people, and which has human rights at its heart.

The Children as Human Rights Defenders programme is a partnership between The Commissioner for Children and Young People, East Lothian Council, Children’s Parliament, Recharge Youth Centre and Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights).

“We are Human Rights Defenders!”

Meet Hannah, Dylan, Emily, Anna and Alexander and Cameron- our six Members of Children’s Parliament and #HumanRightsDefenders who will be co-delivering workshops in schools across Scotland this April  and May about children’s human rights.

Children all over the world are advocating for the realisation of their rights, their peers’ rights and the human rights of all, by acting as human rights defenders at local, regional and international levels. It is a timely opportunity to open the discussion on children as human rights defenders as 2018 is both the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the 70th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has chosen ‘Children as Human Rights Defenders’ as the theme for its Day of General Discussion (DGD) in September 2018.  

As part of Child Rights Connect’s Children’s Advisory Team, Hannah and Cameron have introduced a further ten children in Scotland into the DGD as Human Rights Defenders. We are working with six of the twelve children to design and deliver a national programme for children across Scotland to explore children’s views on what rights they feel need to be defended in Scotland and what support adults can provide to ensure children can be both empowered and protected to be human rights defenders. This programme is a partnership between Children’s Parliament, the Commissioner for Children and Young People for Scotland (CYPCS), Together: Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, Child Rights Connect and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, East Lothian Council and Recharge Youth Centre in Tranent.

At the end of the workshop programme, approximately 200 children will have shared their views and will have learned more about the UNCRC in the process. Following the completion of all five workshops, all 12 Child Human Rights Defenders will gather the material together and thereafter identify five key themes that emerged throughout the workshops. Using children’s words, drawings and poems they will help create five giant shields, which will reflect the children’s ideas and be displayed at the DGD in September.

On Saturday, we met the six MCPs to plan and design the workshops they will be delivering in five schools across Scotland in late April and May. A lot of hard work, problem solving (assembling our giant UNCRC jigsaw for the first time!) and a lot of fun was had. We also had a birthday celebration for Hannah who turned 12 last week!

Our first workshop will take place on the 25th April in East Lothian so make sure to keep an eye out for updates!

Planning the DGD 2018: Highlights from Geneva

After a busy couple of weeks settling back into school before the holidays, we caught up with Hannah and Cameron, MCPs from East Lothian.  Hannah and Cameron recently travelled to Geneva as Child Advisors to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as they plan the Day of General Discussion (DGD) taking place in September 2018.

In Geneva, Hannah and Cameron met with other Child Advisors from around the world – Ariadna (15 years old) from Moldova, Sigurd (16 years old) from Norway and Ankit (17 years old) from India as well as other children who skyped in during the workshops.

Over three days, the Child Advisors began to plan the DGD as a team alongside Mikiko Otani, member of the UNCRC; Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna, Executive Secretary of the UNCRC; Laura Lundy and Michelle Templeton from Queens University Belfast and with support from Child Rights Connect.

Here, Hannah writes about some of the activities they got up to during the workshops:

“We went to the Child Rights Connect building for two days of workshops and to meet the other Child Advisors. To get to know each other, we played this snowball game. I learnt what countries the other Child Advisors are from and what subjects they do. They all do English! We also drew pictures from our country. Ariadna drew bread that isn’t actually bread! I drew tablet which everyone tried and Cameron drew chicken tikka masala which made everyone laugh. I really enjoyed meeting the team!

We started off making changes to the DGD concept note. I made changes to make it more easy and interesting. We used language children can understand so that we know what they’re talking about. I want the DGD to be child-friendly and fun because I don’t want it to be boring” Hannah (MCP, age 12)

The Child Advisors also enjoyed a tour of the UN Palais de Nations where the DGD will take place in September and had the chance to explore Geneva on foot, by tram (a first for most of us which was exciting!) and by boat. There were also many opportunities to explore Geneva’s many Italian restaurants…!

Although this is the first time the DGD is being planned and delivered with children, it will not be the first time children attend the DGD. In 2016, Hannah and Cameron participated in the DGD about Children’s Rights and the Environment along with 13 other children from Tranent as part of their involvement in the Streets Ahead project. Throughout the workshops, Hannah and Cameron were able to draw upon their experiences from the last DGD to make this year’s event more child-friendly.

“Children’s participation in the DGD has to be meaningful but it also has to be fun and energetic!”  Cameron (MCP, age 11)

Between now and September, Hannah and Cameron will continue to help plan the DGD through an online platform before returning to Geneva to participate in the day itself. This year, the theme of the DGD is ‘Children as Human Rights Defenders’. During the workshops, the Child Advisors took part in an activity which explored what makes it difficult to be a Human Rights Defender and how adults can help children to be Human Rights Defenders.

Alongside their role as Advisors to the UNCRC, Hannah and Cameron will also be participating in Children’s Parliament’s new project which will explore what it means to be a Human Rights Defender for children living in Scotland. In partnership with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner in Scotland and East Lothian Council, Children’s Parliament are co-designing and co-delivering a series of workshops with MCPs from East Lothian to take place in five schools across Scotland. These workshops will explore children’s views on what human rights need to be defended in Scotland and what support children might need to become a Human Rights Defender. The children will work with artists to create an installation featuring five giant ‘shields’ which will reflect the key important messages children wish to share about children’s human rights.

This weekend, we are getting together with the MCPs to begin this exciting new journey so make sure to follow our updates on Twitter and Instagram.

To see more highlights from Hannah and Cameron’s trip to Geneva, see here.