Celebrating and exploring children’s understanding of their rights was the focus of a book launch in Belfast, co-hosted by the UNESCO Centre Children and Youth Programme at the University of Ulster and the Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership.
The book, ‘The World of Children’, was written and designed by school children in Fermanagh and Sligo and explores what the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child means to them – and how it affects their daily lives.
Director of the Children and Youth Programme at Ulster's UNESCO Centre, Dr Una O’Connor Bones, explained the issues the book aimed to address:
“The World of Children creatively investigates the lives and rights of school children aged 8 to 12 years and is defined by four underpinning questions: Why are children important? What is important to children? Who are children important to? Who should listen to children?
"These may seem like complicated questions even for adults, but what became apparent as we worked with the children to write this book, was that they have a clear vision of what is important to them and a genuine understanding of what fundamental rights they should have.
"Whether that was the observation that without children there would be no families, or the idea that home, family and pets were crucial to a happy and stable life, we were struck time and again by the simple fact that children have voices and that they are aware of their positions as right holders in society.
"The inescapable conclusion for anyone reading The World of Children will be that children have many thoughts, concerns and solutions that adults really should actively engage with and listen to.”
Orla Kenny from the Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership also stressed how children led every stage of the process in preparing and presenting the book:
“Although the World of Children is a book by children, it is for children and adults alike. It is a clear representation of the issues that matter to these children in 2012.
"Preparing the book was a child-led process from the start. The children who wrote the book presented it, and spoke about their experiences in making it – and about the important conclusions it draws.
"For us the key aspect of this project is that not only does The World of Children present issues that matter to children, the book perhaps fulfils the most important function, that of listening to, hearing, and responding to the voice of the child.”
The launch took place at the MAC, in Belfast, and was also attended by NI Children's Commissioner Patricia Lewsley Mooney.