Spotlight on the Eurochild Children’s Council: March Update

Xabi, 17 years from Spain shares updates from this month’s work of the Eurochild Children’s Council – a voluntary group of young people under 18 working to promote children’s rights in Europe.

Xabi with Pilar Varela, Counselor of Social Rights and Services, Asturias Government (Spain) at the 1st European Symposium of local and regional Children’s and Young Person’s Councils (March, 1-4, 2018)

HELLO everyone reading this update of our work in the ECC! 

I am Xabi (short of Xabier), a 17 year old teenager from Bilbao in the North of Spain. I am a curious person that loves travelling and enjoy learning with others and from others. This is exactly what I am doing in the Eurochild Children’s Council (ECC). We are a very diverse and intercultural European group of young people interested in children’s rights advocacy. Working together we are becoming very good friends and are sharing our dreams for a better future.

I am very proud of being part of this brand new project, we are aware that we are opening a way for those who come after us. We dream of a European citizenship engaged in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

As a young citizen of Bilbao I am very proud because our city, which is seriously engaged in promoting children’s rights, will receive the certificate of Child Friendly City, awarded by UNICEF, in November 2018. The CAI Badge of Recognition is a distinction that UNICEF grants to municipalities for the work they carry out jointly and in coordination with citizens in support of the rights of children and young people. 

The Eurochild Children’s Council (ECC) has participated in the First European Symposium of local and regional Children’s and Young Person’s Councils.

During the last trimester of 2017, Pablo Suarez, Coordinator of UNICEF in Asturias, Spain, became aware of our work at Eurochild on children’s participation in Europe, and wanted to explore collaboration with the children’s participation councils that UNICEF has been pioneering and developing in Spain. 

As a result of this collaborative approach, I agreed to participate, as representative of the ECC, in the First European Symposium of local and regional Children’s and Young Person’s Councils. There, I presented the work and experience of the ECC and made the link between our work at European level with the work of the national councils. 

The First European Symposium was organized by the City Council of Avilés, the Ministry of Presidency and Citizen Participation (General Directorate of Citizen Participation and the Asturian Agency for Development Cooperation), the Ministry of Services and Social Rights (Asturian Institute for Comprehensive Child Care), UNICEF Asturias and the Child Friendly Cities Program of UNICEF Spanish Committee. We were teenagers and adult companions from 14 councils in Asturias, 8 councils in Spanish regions, representatives from European countries (Czech Republic, Germany, Slovenia and Belarus) and myself representing the ECC. 

We studied, discussed and exchanged good practices regarding children’s rights with the aim to be listened and to be allowed to participate at local, regional, national and European level in the organisation and development of the communities in which we live. In our status as European citizens, we also drew a manifesto with ideas, proposals and petitions to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

During the official closing ceremony of the Symposium, which was open and had the presence of regional policy makers, organisations and citizens, we read a Manifesto that we had drawn up as a result of the work done in our meetings. 

Now, I am looking forward to our next ECC meeting in Brussels in April where, apart from our work, we will also participate in the General Assembly and Members Day of Eurochild, with the whole membership. The first experience in November 2017 at the European Parliament was amazing. I learnt a lot about how the European institutions work and how to talk with the Members of the Parliament to advocate about children’s rights. Meanwhile, we continue working remotely: we have started using Basecamp, a platform that facilitates our coordination and organisation to harmonise our different timetables in different countries.