Ranim joined Children’s Parliament as a Project Worker at the end of February. Here she writes about her experiences beginning work on our Food, Health and Fairness Project, as a new member of our team.
As I settled into my new role at the Children’s Parliament, I quickly realized that there would never be a dull moment in this dynamic environment. The teams were buzzing with energy as they juggled a variety of projects, each one more creative and exciting than the other. At the heart of that lively atmosphere, my team, the Children Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) team, had started a partnership with the University of St Andrews to deliver an innovative project on Food, Health & Fairness.
Like any new member, there was a lot for me to learn – everything was new and exciting. I have always enjoyed working closely with children and seeing the world from their perspective. – I was extremely delighted to join the CHRD team and be part of an experience where children can be involved in policy making, especially in areas that are directly linked to their lives. I was really looking forward to starting my role at the Children’s Parliament with the Food & Fairness project and to explore a topic that’s related to all of our daily lives but from children’s perspective.
On a sunny Friday, Kate and I went for our first visit to the schools that we are going to work with. As we pulled up to the first school, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of anticipation and excitement building inside me. When we stepped through the main door, it felt as though the walls were vibrating, reflecting all the energy in the school. We made our way to the classroom where we would meet with the children and their teacher. As we took a seat at the back of the room, I could feel the curiosity of the children. They asked us questions, wanting to know about us and the project we would be working on together. We introduced ourselves and explained that we would be working with them on a special project using a rights- based approach.
“What does that mean?”
We explained that we work to create a space where adults and children are equal and where children can share their views on a specific topic and their voices will be taken seriously and be acted upon.
We spent some time observing the children in their usual writing task with their teacher before we moved on to our next school. It is important to our approach that we observe children’s interactions and engagement in their natural space, to get a sense of how they like to work. I felt a sense of warmth and connection starting to build between us and the children by the end of the morning, which felt like a great starting point for our project.
When we arrived at our second school, it was lunchtime, and we could hear the sounds of laughter and chatter coming from the playground. We made our way to a classroom where we had our lunch and got ready to meet the children that we were going to work with.
As the bell rang, the children entered the classroom with surprised faces. They had visitors in their classrooms! They took a quick seat, but they were buzzing to know who we were and why we were there. We introduced ourselves and the Children’s Parliament, and told them that we’ll be working with them to explore their views and experiences on food and health. We explained that their participation in our project is completely voluntary; it is their choice whether they want to get involved or not at any point. We also allowed some time for questions – to meet their curiosity, and establish a connection between us and them.
They continued their afternoon playing and having fun as part of their Friday’s schedule. Kate and I sat with them at the tables, which was important for us to be able to make eye contact and to be at the same level as them. Whilst my table was making animation, I could hear the other table talking about their weekend plans. We chatted to them for about two hours; I could feel that they started to get more comfortable with us as we started to get to know each other better. When we walked outside the school, Kate and I reflected on how peaceful the environments in both schools were; how there were no adults raising their voices over children, and how children felt supported and respected in both schools. We boarded our train home and I finished the day with much excitement about what was next.