UNICEF USA’s Child Friendly City scheme gathers pace

Minneapolis is working closely with UNICEF USA as it builds towards its goal of being named one of the country’s first official ‘child-friendly cities’. 

After starting the lengthy process back in 2020, Minneapolis has been recognised by the global children’s charity as a candidate for the Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI).

It’s only the second city in the whole of the US to reach this landmark point, the other being Houston, Texas.

Michael Nyenhuis, President and CEO of UNICEF USA, said: “The UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative is a global methodology that communities all around the world have used to really take an inventory of the way our policies, programs and budgets impact children in their community… especially vulnerable and excluded children.

“So we work with communities to do that process, inventory… find out what the gaps are and then to deliver an action plan to fill some of those gaps.”

‘Giving youth a voice’

Minneapolis’s CFCI Local Action Plan is focused on tackling on four key areas: Emergency management + preparedness planning; youth voice in decision-making spaces; community safety; and child rights education + awareness.

Bringing the ‘youth voice’ more on board with the decision-making process is one of the city’s big aims, and to that end it is, together with the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, developing a Youth on Boards programme, which will train, pay and support young people to serve as voting members of local boards and commissions.

“There are actions to improve the welfare of kids but also creating a pathway for their voices to be heard. We talk about the needs and voices of children being at the centre of the child-friendly city process,” added Nyenhuis.

The process dicates that UNICEF will return to the city in a year’s time to assess if the city is meeting its goals, and if so then it will be formally designated a ‘Child Friendly City’. Other cities also working towards CFC status in the USA including San Francisco and Prince George’s County.

UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative is now active in hundreds of cities, across every continent in the world. Click here for more information.

Author: Simon Weedy

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