More than 2,000 schoolchildren have attended this year’s President’s Secret Garden Programme, double the number of youngsters who took part in 2015 when the concept first blossomed on the grounds of San Anton Palace.

This year’s programme, which comes to an end tomorrow, was drawn up by the Children’s Council and the Young Persons Council within the President's Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.

“What has been rewarding is that the children who have taken part felt they had a voice… that little voice, which flourished in the President’s Secret Garden, is now the voice of good practice,” project coordinator Angela Caruana said.

“I feel proud to be part of this beautiful process that continues to evolve in such a colourful way. I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of children during these three years and witnessed them arriving for our activities feeling anxious, shy and quiet. However, they leave full of enthusiasm, energy, and confidence.”

The idea of this secret garden grew from a conversation between President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and the Foundation’s members over lack of space for children to play and learn.

From this, two councils were born, which empower the children to share their opinions and dreams, as well as drive change.

It has also exposed them to new opportunities and three youngsters from the Children’s Council and the Young Persons Council will next week fly to Brussels to attend an EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) meeting.

The conference on migration, poverty and social inclusion, being held between June 26-28, is being attended by Maleck Haj Moussa, 13; Sharon Cilia, 12; and Laura Marie Mercieca, 15.

“Children have found their voice and they now use it both nationally and on a global level. Their voice has given well-being and child participation a totally different meaning,” Ms Caruana said.

This year all the schoolchildren who attended had the chance to learn about science, the magic of stories, waste management, caring for pets and the importance of dance and movement, among many others.

“The President’s Secret Garden is a project aimed at building and restoring a spirit of community, initiated by these young individuals with their strong voices. Our dream and vision is that it will eventually become part of all our communities, throughout our cities and villages in Malta, Gozo, and beyond.”




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