Children in Gozo are being empowered to voice their needs and become a stronger presence in society through the creation of their very own hub, launched on Friday to mark World Children’s Day.
The Gozo children’s hub is an offshoot of the children’s hub within the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society (MFWS), and follows on the success and inroads it made in bringing their concerns to the fore.
It will provide users with a safe space in which they can discuss sensitive issues, debate and present arguments to influence policymakers.
The hub will initially operate online but will then transition to a physical space at MFWS premises in Victoria.
Its main aim is to teach children about their rights with a special focus on article 12 of the UN Convention for the Rights, which establishes the right of every child to freely express her or his views, in all matters affecting her or him, and the subsequent right for those views to be given due weight, according to the child's age and maturity.
MFWS chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who is also president of Eurochild, a children’s rights advocacy network with 176 members in 34 countries, felt it was high time that children in Gozo had their own space to discuss their aspirations.
“Children in Gozo have unique needs and different hoops to jump through, so we felt this new branch will facilitate their participation, make them more visible and empower them to speak up,” Coleiro Preca said.
World Children's Day, celebrated each year on November 20, offers the opportunity to advocate, promote and celebrate children's rights, in the hope these will translate into dialogue and action that will build a better world for children.
Coleiro Preca added: “There is nobody better suited to influence policies that affect children, than the children themselves. As one of our young members, Hailey, said, this hub gives them the chance to ‘dream big’ and be heard.”
To achieve this vision, the children’s hub within the MFWS is continuously investing in activities and projects that promote active citizenship.
Friday’s launch of the Gozo hub is intended to widen this safe space for children from Gozo and help adults understand children’s issues through a child’s perspective.
Sharon Cilia, one of the hub’s founding members, said: “Being part of this team makes me feel like we can finally remove the masks. We are free to be our true selves. It gives me confidence. We feel a part of something. We are given the voice that is usually take away from us.”
The virtual launch — taking place between 5 and 6pm — aims to bring together members of the Children’s and Young Persons’ Council in Malta to share their experiences with their counterparts in Gozo.
Those who wish to take part can send an email to email@example.com to receive further details, including the link for the launch.