There should be more politicians with disabilities to give this sector of society the visibility it deserved, 10-year-old Maya told politicians on Friday.

Speaking during a meeting with newly-elected MEPs, the young girl encouraged politicians to support awareness campaigns that promote people with disabilities.

Children met MEPs on Friday to present their proposals on a number of topics, including social exclusion and health.

11-year-old Andre Micallef also encouraged politicians to raise awareness, saying he would often meet people who would not know what dyspraxia- the condition he suffers from - is.

Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder of the brain in childhood causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Andre also spoke about social exclusion, encouraging awareness campaigns against bullying.

MEP Miriam Dalli said teachers should be educated about how to deal with cases of bullying and encouraged students to speak out.

PN MEP Roberta Metsola echoed her concerns, saying parents should be equipped to deal with bullying.

MEPs Alex Agius Saliba and Josianne Cutajar both agreed social media could be used negatively, but could also be used to highlight the experiences of those who had been bullied.

‘We have too many buildings,’ students tell MEPs

During the meeting, many spoke out against excessive development in the country.

Streets are blocked with cranes and trees continue to be cut down to make way for more buildings, they said.

"We need to reduce the number of buildings and children will be happier because they will have more spaces to play," young Christopher Mercieca said.

If more trees were planted, children would have spaces to practice sport and be active, Martina Oliva added, recommending schools should organise clean-ups.

MEP Josianne Cutajar agreed that it was important to safeguard the natural environment and spoke out against vandalism.

The natural environment could also help mental health, she added.

Dr Dalli noted Malta had a small geographical space that made it difficult to have many open spaces.

“We do not have enough geographical space for open spaces, but we do have space for sustainable development with breakout green areas,” she said.

The two largest groups in the European Union both prioritised the environment, Dr Agius Saliba added.

‘My brother is told that boys and girls should play separately at school’

During the meeting, students insisted women and men should be paid equally for equal work.

They also spoke out against stereotyping, with one boy saying his brother was told that boys and girls should not play together.

Push for children’s commissioner

Speaking at the end of the meeting, President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who was there on behalf of the Foundation for Social Wellbeing, said the children’s words were inspiring.

“We want to make these conversations meaningful so that in 20 years’ time children are not saying the same things,” she said.

She also pressed for a Commissioner for Children in the European Commission, saying it would help safeguard the rights of the children.

With the opportunity of a new European Commission, Eurochild has launched a petition to gather signatures supporting a new role at the European Commission – A Commissioner for Children.

“We even have a Commissioner for fish, we should have one for children,” she joked.

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