Child Friendly Cities Inspire awards are celebration of global excellence

Image: Farrah Zakir

Six of the world’s most child-friendly cities have been rewarded for their innovation in a prestigious awards ceremony celebrating urban creativity for the benefit of young people.

The UNICEF Child Friendly Cities and Local Governments Inspire Awards build on the charity’s child friendly cities programme, by marking out which cities and municipalities have gone the extra mile to deliver projects and solution that foster child rights.

Ahead of World Children’s Day this coming Saturday (20 November), the awards this year were given in six categories, for which cities had to put their names forward for consideration:

  1. Child participation
  2. Child-friendly social services
  3. Child poverty reduction and social protection
  4. Safe, clean, sustainable and child-friendly environments
  5. Play, leisure and family time
  6. Child-friendly governance.

Hosting the awards, Carla Haddad Mardini, UNICEF director of private sector fundraising & partnerships, gave a video address in which welcomed all those taking part, describing the event as ‘a celebration of the work and commitment of local governments to advance child rights’.

‘Offering children a chance to be heard’

Over the next 90 minutes the online audience heard from local mayors, UNICEF representatives, children, and all other supporters of the child-friendly cities initiative, before the winner of each category was announced.

Carla said that ‘as a mother herself, she knew the importance of growing up in a child-friendly environment where they can reach their full potential’. “A commitment to creating these types of environments shone through all the submissions we received through these awards. We are delighted to celebrate today inspiring examples of how this commitment is translated into concrete results for children,” she added.

The winning cities for each category were as follows:

CHILD PARTICIPATION – Aviles, Spain: Aviles Child and Youth Council – Children Shaping Our City. The Aviles Child and Youth Council offers all children in the city a chance to be heard, with real impact on the lives of children and the broader community. (Also nominated: Yazd, Iran & Wanju County, Republic of Korea).

CHILD-FRIENDLY SOCIAL SERVICES – Bakhmut, Ukraine: The SPILNO (Jointly) Project: The project ‘SPILNO (Jointly)’ creates a continuum of social services for children with disabilities all the way from early intervention to adequate services and follow-up. (Also nominated: Hafnarjördur, Iceland & Rio De Janeiro, Brazil).

CHILD POVERTY REDUCTION AND SOCIAL PROTECTION – Bogota, Columbia: District Strategy for Children: The District Strategy for Children presents a territorial approach to protecting children from the impacts of poverty, such as child labour. (Also nominated: Lisbon, Portugal & Lviv, Ukraine).

SAFE, CLEAN, SUSTAINABLE AND CHILD-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENTS – San Francisco, USA: Heron’s Head Nature Exploration Area: The Heron’s Head Nature Exploration Area encourages people of all ages to engage with diverse natural elements, while promoting more equal access to outdoor play and nature. (Also nominated: Tumaco, Colombia & Rio Quito, Colombia).

PLAY, LEISURE AND FAMILY TIME – Regensburg, Germany: Brixenpark: A Child-Friendly and Inclusive Park for All: Brixenpark is a result of working together with children from all backgrounds. Built on a former army base, it provides a green and playful space for all citizens. (Also nominated: Navapolatsk, Belarus & Bucaramanga, Colombia).

CHILD-FRIENDLY GOVERNANCE – Berbera, Somalia: Local Government-led Decentralized Basic Service Delivery: By investing in a stronger local capacity for planning, budgeting and citizen participation, Berbera has successfully expanded access to healthcare and education for children – with impressive results. (Also nominated: Wanju County, Republic of Korea & Sharjah, UAE).

A special surprise Children’s Choice award was given to Rio Quito, Colombia, for its project ‘Protective Environments for Children and Adolescents. Rio Quito has created protective environments for children through investments in play, participation, cultural activities and improved urban planning – successfully reducing violence against children.

Sharjah, UAE, was also given the People’s Choice award for its Child Friendly City Project, after receiving the most votes of any other city. The Sharjah Child Friendly City Project sets a comprehensive vision for making the city fit for children through awareness raising and participation, child-friendly policies, and improved services. 

Author: Simon Weedy

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