Children call for healthy environment to play

The more than 10 metre-long mural told the story of the past, present and future in the eyes of children from a small town in Scotland.

There were panels showing mining and agriculture which were part of the town’s past, main streets filled with shops and traffic for the present, and finally panels showing a walkable place with plenty of green spaces for adults to gather and children to play.

The children, from Tranent, a town 10 miles east of Edinburgh, created the mural which explored their views and experiences of their environment and how it impacts on their rights and well-being. The mural was created by children from the StreetsAhead (sic) Tranent project under the umbrella of the Children’s parliament. It was exhibited during a day of discussion of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The project was an opportunity for children to reflect their own desires for their hometown, particularly in terms of the environment, while learning about child rights. As part of the project, the mural travelled to the United Nations Office at Geneva where it was showcased as part of an event featuring work of children from six other nations on children’s rights and the environment.

During the event-stop in Geneva, some of the children from Tranent were on hand to explain the mural to adults and others during a discussion about children’s rights and the environment held by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Anna, 10, from Tranent said it was important for children to be taking part and explaining their mural.

“Kids should be treated well, and we should be able to play about with our friends,” she said.

Alistar, 9, also from Tranent agreed.

“The environment is quite important because without it, things would be really bad,” he said. “Global warming is going to get really bad and we really need to help the environment.”

The impact of environmental damage on children’s rights is not new. But despite the near universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and data that explicitly links environmental damage to the health of children; the link between children’s health and their rights is not explicit.  

Committee member (former Vice-Chair) Amal Aldoseri said it was essential to have children nvolved and have their opinions taken into account in discussions about their rights.

“Well this whole convention is about children,” she said. “They are voicing their opinions, putting it out in a visual and clear manner, and what they have to say through different mediums. It is so much fun and it is so informative and inspiring.”

After leaving Geneva, the mural continued to travel to several other locations, including the festival of architecture in Dundee, Scotland, and presented before the Scottish Government.

28 September 2017

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