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Local children, young people and adult stakeholders invited to Unicef Community Youth Discovery Days

17 January 2020

Derry City and Strabane District Council are inviting children, young people and adult stakeholders to take part in a special consultation event in the Guildhall next month as part of the Council area’s bid to achieve Unicef Child Friendly Community status.

The Unicef Community and Youth Discovery Days will take place on Thursday February 6th and Friday February 7th in the Guildhall and will allow children and young people to discuss how they feel within their local community as well as how their rights are respected or violated.

The event is being facilitated by Unicef UK in partnership with local statutory, community and voluntary sector organisations.

Local young people from the Unicef Youth Advisory Panel will take a leading role, presenting and facilitating on the day.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, encouraged organisations working with children and young people aged 10-18 to get involved.

“Child Friendly Communities aim to create cities and communities where all children, whether they live in care, use a children’s centre, visit a leisure centre or local library have a meaningful say in and truly benefit from the local decisions, services and spaces that shape their lives,” she explained.

“With expert training and guidance from Unicef UK, the partnership sees politicians, staff and volunteers turning to children’s rights – as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – to guide decisions that affect children and young people.

“Ongoing work has been taking place at a local level and a range of youth and adult stakeholders have already been involved in remote consultation.

“This event allows children and young people to have an input into the decisions that affect them – from major policies, to decisions around the care they receive. We will be talking about things like spaces to play and meet friends, being healthy and feeling safe”

At the event young people will learn more about children’s rights globally and nationally and hear about the local picture.

In the afternoon, attendees will work in groups to look at what’s going well and what needs attention for children and young people in the Council area.

The agenda also includes a performance from young local musician ROE, winner of the Best Emerging Artist at the Northern Ireland Music Prize and support to Snow Patrol, Kodaline, Robbie Williams and The Coronas.

ROE is taking time out of her busy schedule as she embarks on her very first headline tour of the UK. 

Claire Lynch, DSCDC Children and Young Peoples Coordinator, added: “ROE is passionate about supporting the community, especially on topics like mental health, the focus of some of her heart felt and quirky music.

“The performance will add value to the discussions and creative workshops planned for the day.

“It will give participants an alternative way to explore emotions and encourage them to be open about challenges while focusing on the importance of facing those challenges head on.

“Consultation has identified that one of the biggest priorities for young people is mental health.

“We need to work with the relevant partners to ensure that we develop more child friendly and accessible services, tailored to our local needs.

“The partnership with Unicef UK gives us an opportunity to focus our attention in a joined up manner through the Community Planning approach”.

Youth Advisory Member, Liam Mc Clintock looked ahead to the event: “I joined the group so I could give my opinion about things going on to try make Derry and Strabane a better place,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to the day to see what happens.

“I’m organising for a video I created with Third Space about Disability to be shown at the event.

“I have experience of going through things that could help others and I want everyone to know that people with learning disabilities can do what other people do.

“I want people to know that if you have a learning disability you can do the things you want to do in life”.

Naomi Danquah, Unicef UK’s Director of Child Friendly Cities and Communities, added: “This day is key in ensuring children and young people have the opportunity to contribute equally to decisions, share their views and help shape the direction of Derry City and Strabane’s Child Friendly Cities journey.

“Guided by their ideas and experiences, we can work together for better outcomes for all children and young people in the community.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the Youth Discovery Day should register their interest at [email protected].