Children’s Charter of Rights influences city policies and programmes
In western Canada, over 3,000 children in the City of Richmond have contributed to a Children’s Charter that has been endorsed by the Mayor and City Council, resulting in the Charter being imbedded into the city’s 10-year social development strategy, Building Our Social Future.
In 2010, Richmond Children First invited children to help create a Richmond Children’s Charter. Over a 12-month period, Richmond children from 3 to 12 years old accepted the invitation and shared their thoughts, through words and drawings.
- 2,600 elementary school children from 45 public and independent schools submitted bookmarks as part of an annual bookmark contest hosted by Richmond Public Health, depicting the theme, “Every Richmond child has the right to…”
- The voices of 350 pre-schoolers were engaged through the creation of Magical Trees of Children’s Rights submitted by child care centres, preschools, Strong Start Centres and family resource programs.
- 150 children attending summer camp programs submitted entries to the Richmond Children’s Rights Summer Poster Contest.
Children’s rights activities
A group of 30 children then edited and finalised the Charter utilising children’s rights activities and a community visioning process. The children also created a charter video. The charter reflects the top 12 rights identified by Richmond children.
The Richmond Children’s Charter provides a child’s perspective on the challenge of building a child-friendly city, guiding the development of Richmond as a city based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Richmond Children’s Charter is identified as a social development policy in the City of Richmond, Building Our Social Future. The City of Richmond recognises that it plays a key role in helping children, youth and their families to thrive, and they have demonstrated this by involving children in planning neighbourhoods, amenities and services.
Richmond Children’s Charter
Across Richmond, organisations and groups have also been invited to endorse the Richmond Children’s Charter and to make a commitment to Richmond children. Prior to endorsing the chart, organisations are invited to reflect on their policies, programmes and practices. They are asked:
- How do your policies, programs and practices fit with the Richmond Children’s Charter? What are you doing well? How can you improve?
- Are the decisions you are making in the best interests of Richmond children?
- Do children have a meaningful voice in decisions that are relevant to and impact them?
- Are the adults who work with and for children in your organisation aware of children’s rights?
- Are children informed about their rights?
Endorsements look different for each organisation, business and group. They depend on how the organisation works with, and for, children, the size of the organisation and the capacity within the organisation. Examples of commitments include:
- Reviewing policies with a child’s lens
- Aligning programming with the Charter
- Displaying copies of the Charter in staff rooms and offices
- Educating staff about children’s rights
- Communicating children’s rights across their organisation and share with stakeholders
- Advocating for children’s rights
- Asking for children’s input
- Informing children about their rights
Author: Helen Davidson