Amplifying Youth Voices: Highlights from our UNCRC Workshop
Youth who attended the workshop posing for a group shot
With the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as a backdrop, a group of 21 youth came together on 15 June this year for “Rights Here, Right Now!”. It is an interactive workshop organised by Singapore Children’s Society, which explores the framework of rights under the UNCRC.
In case you didn’t know: The UNCRC is an important agreement that safeguards and promotes children’s well-being across the globe. Countries who have signed up promised to respect and fulfil it. Since it was adopted by the United Nations in November 1989, a total of 196 countries, including Singapore, have signed up to the UNCRC and it is the most widely ratified international agreement.
At the workshop, youth aged 13 to 19 took part in a series of interactive discussions, group activities and reflective exercises. The aim was to help them gain a deeper understanding of their rights and their role in shaping the society they would like to live in.
Here are some key highlights of the workshop:
Road to Rights
After a short 101 introduction to the UNCRC, the youth delved deeper into global issues affecting children and young persons, such as mental health and online safety.
Youth participated in a group ‘race’ where they had to guess the correct statistics for each question. Group 1 (seated at the front) won the race!
While exploring Singapore’s approach to addressing children’s rights, the youth gave various suggestions to tackle mental health and online safety challenges.
Making Rights Real
As a concluding activity for the event, the youth were given some time to reflect on a specific issue they cared about, and the steps needed to make positive changes in that area. After their reflection, the youth gathered in a circle to share their envisioned Singapore. There were numerous views on improving mental health in Singapore.
One of the areas highlighted was to help young people feel comfortable discussing mental health. Secondly, the youth suggested training more peers to be mentors, as the closer age gap would make it easier to understand youth’s concerns. Lastly, there is also a need to increase mental health literacy across Singapore.
A number of youth at the workshop felt that tech companies can play a bigger role in reducing exposure to violent and sexual online content, such as addressing the issue of youth stumbling upon inappropriate advertisements online.
The youth penned their thoughts on a fruit-shaped card, allowing for a more creative and personal expression. A youth wrote: “An issue I face that needs to be changed is the stigma on education routes and mental health. An actionable step that can take us there is providing more recognition for mental health and leaving a better image for education routes”.
Overall, the youth participants enjoyed the workshop and learned how the UNCRC is relevant to their lives. A youth shared one takeaway from the workshop: “How my voice matters and can make a difference”, which emphasises the need for such platforms.
Others who attended also agreed that their peers would benefit from learning about the UNCRC. We look forward to organising the next “Rights Here, Right Now” workshop to hear more youth voices on how their rights can be safeguarded and fulfilled.
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