As part of our active child participation programme, Hope and Homes for Children – Bulgaria organized a very interesting consultation session with children from Sofia, aged 7 up to 16 on the 4th November. The aim of the session was to present the children with an internal document of the organization, the “Keeping Safe” Workbook. This workbook summarizes, in a child friendly manner, their rights in regards to family, safety, security, identity, education, personal space and more.
Each child was given a personal workbook to work on and the structure of the document urged children to write in any additional rights they see important, which haven’t been included in the book, as well as to illustrate with drawings or explain with words real life situations and different ways for handling aggression. Children worked independently, however, most of them were consulting with each other and helping each other out.
The topic on rights of identity seemed too abstract and difficult for the younger participants, which is why the two coordinators of HHC – Bulgaria explained the idea with simpler words and elaborated on what is meant by such rights and what not and how these rights are seen implemented in day-to-day situations.
Other than provoking the children to think more seriously about their rights, to develop their creativity and to have fun with children their age, the goal of our consultation session was also aimed at giving children an opportunity to spread the idea of children’s rights outside of HHC – Bulgaria’s office. This is why children took their Workbooks home. In this way we hope that we will provoke a conversation between the children and their parents in regards to children’s rights and their views on the matter.
All interesting and creative ideas that children came up with, we copied while they were working on their workbooks. Here are the main points we noticed repeated in the works of all children, regardless of their age and gender:
- Children noted that they have a right to an opinion, to share that opinion without feeling ashamed and to be heard and respected
- Children shared that they have a right to a home and a family, a right to being with their families and sharing with them
- Children stated that they have a right to protection and help if they have any physical or mental disability
- Children noted that it is their right to know who they are, where they come from and where their parents come from
- All children stated that they have a right to breathe, to express themselves through their hobbies, to choose what they eat, how they dress and what sort of hair they have
- Finally, children said they have a right to live in a healthy environment, to have and to manage their free time
All children left with a smile on their face and expressed their sincere will to participate in future sessions like this one.