Monday, June 25, 2012

Agents of change: Children show the way


The Press Institute of India and the Chennai Press Club in partnership with UNICEF conducted recently a media engagement programme with children whose participation has brought about changes in local communities and local governments. UNICEF continues to support and strengthen children and young people in civic engagement initiatives and networks in Tamil Nadu. There are child participation groups, which can be termed as models in Tamil Nadu, which work towards realising child rights. The children have been participating in issues concerning them in local communities and local governance and bringing about changes that help the realisation of child rights. The programme held at the Chennai Press Club auditorium saw children, positive agents of change, interacting directly with the media.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right, available to every person in India, including children. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that children should be active participants in any decision-making process that impacts their lives, and their views given due consideration in accordance with their age and maturity. Children and young people can participate at multiple levels and in different contexts, from the personal to the global, and in a range of institutional settings, from the household and school to the municipal council and global advocacy processes.

It was really to showcase examples of children-led advocacy and to highlight the fact that such changes lead to betterment of society that the programme was conducted. What surprised me most was the confidence the children showed in speaking to the media. The hall was packed with photographers, television cameramen and reporters, but it only seemed to enthuse the children to speak out, loud and clear. Even girls, as young as the ones you see in the picture, did not let go of the mike easily. Lessons for some of our PR and communication practitioners... We are hoping these exercises (this is the second in a series of six planned) will translate into meaningful stories in the press and media, and lead to greater motivation and participation. 

Picture shows yours truly with Sugata Roy, UNICEF Communications head (bespectacled, centre), and some of the children at the Chennai Press Club.

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