It is the right of every child to be heard. Child participation is one of the basic rights enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 12 of the UNCRC establishes the right of every child to freely express her or his views, in all matters affecting her or him, and the subsequent right for those views to be given due weight, according to the child’s age and maturity.
Children’s right to be heard can also facilitate the fulfilment of children’s basic rights to protection and development. As children have a better understanding of their situation, we have to listen to their needs and opinions in order to better protect them and help them develop their potentials. At Plan International Hong Kong, our ultimate goal is to mainstream child participation in all decision making processes that have an impact on children, and advocate for sufficient resource allocation to facilitate child participation in all aspects.
Since June 2018, partnering with “Alliance for Children Development Rights”, we launched the project “Voice of the Children”. This pilot project, started first in Yau Tsim Mong and the North district, aims to test the community-based approach to engage children in identifying the issues that are most concerning to their protection and development, and facilitate child-led actions through effective and ethical child participation.
By launching this project, we hope to create additional opportunities for children at large to participate in matters most relevant to them and have a more direct impact on the services in the community. ‘Voice of the Children’ is therefore a platform for them to work with other children and adults in the community to solve the problems they identify in their surroundings, and make practical changes.
We trust that children and youth can be active drivers of change.
‘Voice of the Children’ illustrates a community-based child-center development model from raising awareness to identifying problems, building consensus with peers and other influencing groups, advocating to duty bearers and leading to a social change.
Using our global training manual ‘Bamboo Shoots’ as the blueprint for our Child Participatory Community Development Project, we have localized our experience in facilitating community child participation in other Asian countries into the development of ‘Voices of the Children’ programme model in Hong Kong.
We hope that the training manual, encompassing the details of our training workshops for both adult facilitators and participating children, will serve as a reference for other child-related professionals to promote child participation in communities, and engage other passionate adult facilitators to help realize children’s participation right together.