Building Children’s Futures - Youth participation with purpose
This blog was written by Marina Lambrakis, Policy and Partnership Development Officer at Foróige.
The Building Children’s Futures project was initiated in autumn 2022, thanks to funding from the CERV Programme of the European Commission. The two-year project aims to examine the effects of pandemic measures on activities and services for children and young people and how this impacted their rights. The research will be done through consultations with groups of children and young people who were disproportionately impacted. This will inform the development and dissemination of a Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) tool by using Ireland as a case study of best practice to support the embedding of a children’s rights approach, including during times of emergency.
- Participation with purpose – the Children and Young People’s Advisory Group
A key pillar of the Building Children’s Futures project is establishing a Children and Young People’s Advisory Group (CYPAG), to ensure that children and young people shape all critical aspects of our project, including developing consultation questions, reviewing the research methodology and findings, and co-designing the child rights-based recommendations for post-Covid-19 response.
The CYPAG is being coordinated by Foróige, a large Irish youth organisation with expertise in youth participation, following a best practice participatory approach based on the Lundy Model of Child Participation (space - voice - audience - influence) focused on ‘participation with purpose’.
After an open call for nominations with stakeholder groups in autumn 2022, 9 young people from across Ireland were successful in their application to join the CYPAG. These young people range in age from 14 to 18 years, and come from all corners of the country (from Cork to Roscommon, and from Limerick to Dublin). The group includes young people with a range of lived experiences and identities, including from various communities who were disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic due to family background, health, ethnic origin, sexuality, gender identity, and so on.
- Participation in practice – building capacity for meaningful participation
The CYPAG has met several times since December 2022. Our initial meeting took place over Zoom, and focused on getting to know one another and introducing the project aims and structure. CYPAG members were provided with capacity building and support around children’s rights awareness, to ensure that they felt equipped to participate fully and actively.
In January 2023, we met in person for the first time on a cold and rainy Saturday in central Dublin. The group threw themselves into designing questions and methodological approaches for the children and young people’s consultations, reviewing the language and activities and making a number of recommendations to ensure that the consultations are suited to the needs of children and young people.
After this a sub-group of the CYPAG were brought together to be trained in the internationally recognised Youth as Researchers Training Programme, developed by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the University of Galway. These 5 young people will co-conduct interviews with key decision-makers, alongside researchers from the University of Galway. This sub-group reports into the wider CYPAG who maintain oversight, and our third meeting (also online) recently reviewed the interview format and questions for the sub-group to use in their interviews.
Despite only having been established 3 months ago, the CYPAG have already demonstrated their wholehearted commitment to the Building Children’s Futures project through their enthusiastic engagement and eagerness to take part in additional opportunities. We want to thank all the CYPAG members for their time, energy, and ideas to date, as well as the staff and organisations who support their involvement in the group.
Project partners include the Children’s Rights Alliance (who are coordinating the project), alongside the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth of the Irish Government, Children and Young People's Services Committees - Tusla the Child and Family Agency in Ireland", the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the University of Galway, and Foróige.
For further information, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo taken at the first in-person meeting of the CYPAG, January 2023