Houston is the USA’s first official ‘Child Friendly City’
The US city of Houston, in partnership with UNICEF USA, says it is ‘proud’ to be named as the country’s first official Child Friendly City, joining more than 3.500 municipalities in over 40 countries.
Leaders of the Texan city described the announcement as a ‘momentous occasion’, and sees it join more than 3,500 municipalities in over 40 countries.
The news also ‘reaffirms Houston’s dedication to be responsive to the needs of children and youth and showcases Houstonians’ active commitment to protecting children’s rights’.
Originally created in 1996, UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) uses the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to build a roadmap for establishing safer, more just, equitable, inclusive, and child-responsive cities and communities around the world.
It was 2019 when the partnership began between UNICEF USA and the City of Houston, with Mayor Sylvester Turner becoming the first US mayor to sign UNICEF’s global Child Friendly Cities Manifesto. Even the onset of the COVID pandemic in early 2020 did not dampen the strength of the commitment between both parties, and it even gained momentum thanks to a series of virtual events that increased the accessibility and visibility of the initiative for many locals, affectionately known as ‘Houstonians’.
Mayor Turner said: “Receiving this national distinction is a humbling moment for the City of Houston. We appreciate the robust and comprehensive child rights framework provided by UNICEF USA and their unwavering support throughout the process.
“We are hopeful this will inspire many other U.S. cities to create awareness of children’s rights, strengthen support systems for youth and include them in the decision-making of their city.”
Michael J. Nvenhuis, President & CEO of UNICEF USA, said: “Nearly three years ago, the City of Houston, in partnership with UNICEF USA, embarked on its journey toward building safer, more equitable and inclusive communities for children through the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative. We are thrilled to celebrate this historic milestone as Houston is recognised as the first UNICEF Child Friendly City in the nation, devoted to prioritising children’s participation, mental health, resource accessibility, emergency preparedness and creating long-lasting impact.”
The Mayor’s Office of Education and Youth Engagement is leading this vast project, having worked closely with city leaders, government agencies, service providers and, crucially, local young people and families to achieve this goal. The office helped secure this recognition by conducting an analysis on the state of children’s rights in the city, successfully creating and implementing the Houston Child Friendly City Action Plan and releasing those achievements in the Action Plan Report.
The city also made made significant progress tackling mental health, emergency preparedness, resource accessibility and civic engagement. This included mental health training for over 700 service providers, an emergency preparation communications campaign, and an upcoming podcast on children’s rights.
Click here for more information on UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative.