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Let’s talk Young! Let’s talk about the impact of COVID19 on Children’s rights

Twenty young people participated in a Youth Participation Project called ENYA (the European Network of Young Advisors) throughout a period of 6 weeks.

Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the Office of the Commissioner for Children collaborated to provide the participants with weekly sessions where they had the space to share their recommendations in response to the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on children’s rights.

By the end of the program two participants were chosen to represent Malta in the European Network of Young Advisors conference to be held in July 2021 during which they will present their recommendations on behalf of the Maltese children and young people.

ENYA SESSIONS

During the first session young people were introduced  to Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the Office of the Commissioner for Children, which enabled them to understand the functions of both entities.

Young people shared the reasons why they were participating in this project whilst also shared their expectations, differentiated among wants, needs and rights and explored the 42 Children’s Rights divided into 3 categories: Protection, Participation and Provision.

During the other sessions, young people were presented with real life scenarios from which they had to identify the children’s rights not being respected.

In the light of a survey conducted with other young people residing in Malta, participants discussed about which of their rights were mostly affected due to the COVID19 pandemic. Education and Health emerged as the main themes whilst the theme of Online Life ran across both themes.

A P.E teacher and representatives from the Health Promotion Unit and the Richmond Foundation discussed with the participants the impact of COVID19 on children’s physical and mental health.

The Impact of COVID19 on children’s education, was explored throughout the fourth session. Participants were divided into two groups and debated the positive and the negative effects of the pandemic on their education.

Along the sessions the participants were granted the space to reflect on what could they have done if they knew the pandemic was coming, what still needs to be done one year in the pandemic and what needs to be done to support children when the pandemic is over.

Young people came up with their own recommendations in the fields of Education, Health and Online Life which were presented to Ms Miceli, the Commissioner for children and Ms Theuma, CEO of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ during the sixt and final session.

Throughout this program young people reflected on how the COVID19 pandemic affected their rights and presented their own recommendations. Above all, new friendships were created, young people built their confidence and shared their opinions in an atmosphere of collaboration and acceptance.

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