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The Most Beautiful Painting- too right!

''Children shouldn’t be heard; they should be listened to!''- Sharon shares her experience at the Eurochild Symposium on Child Participation.

That moment when you feel like you can’t utter one single word; when you feel like a whitish, greyish colour which feels like nothing and everything at the same time. That’s how I felt when the Eurochild Symposium on Child Participation ended. Why?

On the first day, I felt very shy and doubts flooded my mind. However, then I realised that I was no less and no more than any of the other 10 participants. As I listened to their brilliant opinions and ideas, my confidence started growing because I was convinced that they would be nice to me. What happened after that?

Well, I didn’t change or become some sort of genius or get super powers. I discovered the person that was always inside me but always stayed hidden in a corner. I was someone I never knew I was. The seed was always there, flooded- I just needed that ray of sunshine to help me grow.

So the days rolled on. I expressed my opinions and ideas, I thought deeply and I built new theories. I became more interested and motivated in giving children in Europe, and eventually everywhere, a voice. Having a voice and being able to participate when young is a right that may seem obvious but is not always respected and it’s very crucial.

Some may argue that they’re just kids, that they know nothing or don’t understand. However, children shouldn’t be heard; they should be listened to! They are our future and so they should be everyone’s priority. They do understand and they feel and know- even when not knowing the word itself- the difference between what’s just and what’s not.

Their ideas must be listened to because their childhood affects their future self which affects the entire future world. If adults have the right to speak up when they’ve been through injustices, why can’t our children, the next generation, be given the opportunity to do so? I used the words ‘given the opportunity’ because it’s a child’s right to voice their opinion but it’s just not yet given much importance.

That’s why this experience was marvellous. We children, from different countries, ages and backgrounds had the golden chance of giving our views on our participation with civil society and with politicians. 

Together, we developed a draft of a strategy of how to involve children in decisions taken by the European Parliament. It is yet to be altered to make it better but it will hopefully make big changes or improvement in the future. However, we worked on it together and that’s what’s important.

When this thing started, we were just blank pages. We were all trying to impress each other, all a bit scared about what would happen- would we make friends, would our ideas make sense and would we manage to make our countries proud? However, during these 5 days, we used our favourite colours, brushes and patterns to create the most beautiful painting in the world!

Sharon, 12 years

Malta