“They need to listen to what we’re saying.”

Reflections: Executive Team Takeover 2022

On the 14th of June 2022, seven MCPs – our Children’s Human Rights Defenders (CHRDs) – met with the Scottish Government Executive Team to discuss in detail the calls to action they took to the 2022 Cabinet Meeting. You can find out all about the Cabinet meeting, including the calls to action, here: https://www.childrensparliament.org.uk/cabinettakeover2022/

Katie Logie, Project Worker for Children’s Voices, supported the MCPs to prepare for the meeting. In this blog, she reflects on the preparation process.

Riding on the high from our successful Cabinet Meeting in March, our Children’s Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) regrouped to decide on how they wanted to approach the next big event in the CHRD calendar; the Executive Team meeting. 

The Executive Team is made up of the senior civil servants in Scotland and are the people who can make ‘action’ happen.  The CHRD crew were in firm agreement that they wanted to continue to focus on their calls-to-action from the Cabinet Meeting but wanted to get creative in how they presented their ideas. Using air-dry clay, the children’s ideas came to life and illustrated to the decision-makers what Scotland could look like if their issues were resolved.

Adults realising children’s human rights

Michael, Harry and Waldah have created a world where children’s rights are valued and respected. At the top, on the right you can see a billboard, reminding people of children’s rights. It’s next to a beautifully green, well kept open space where children can play safely. You then cross the road to a beach and garden area with opportunities for children to play and discover. They chose to include a fun alien to be discovered! There is a clean, freshwater river with a boat on it for people to use to explore.

On the top left, there is a children’s rights museum in a park. The museum is free to visit and is child friendly with interactive exhibits. There is a ‘good room’ where children’s rights are being respected, and a ‘bad room’ where they’re not.

When reflecting on their model, Waldah noted;

“Adults should treat children with respect and kindness. Listen to their rights.”
Michael added “and use them!”

Gender equality in schools

Rida and Tate have created a gender equal school using their clay. At the bottom of the sculpture, you can see the words “Strong Boy” crossed out. This is to represent the need for stereotyping language, such as ‘strong boy’ and ‘neat girl’, to be removed from school settings.

Tate added in a football pitch just above this phrase to emphasise the need for equality in activities. The MCPs feel that boys and girls should get an equal choice of sports and activities at school. Gender should not decide how children play, and it’s important that they are encouraged to choose based on what you’re interested in. Rida and Tate agree that girls can, and should, play football too, which is why the pitch is included!

The various children represent the need to remove gendered uniform in schools. In this image, everyone is wearing the uniform they want to wear! By removing gendered uniform, children can play and express themselves how they want.

Finally, in the top left corner, ‘over the rainbow’ represents the future, where everyone is equal and happy. Rida noted;

“I find it a big part of my life. I don’t want this to be a thing for future people.”
Tate added, “I have high hopes for it to change!”

Children’s mental health and wellbeing

Chiara and Sam’s clay creation shows a Scotland where there are dedicated spaces for children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The top left corner depicts a good play park. The park would get children out of the house, and be able to have fun, play, and engage with nature. The park should be nice and clean. The importance of the upkeep of parks has been emphasised on multiple occasions.

The top right corner has lovely, green spaces. The MCPs believe that nature has a positive impact on children’s mental health and wellbeing, and green spaces are not always available – especially in cities. As such, Sam and Chiara emphasised the importance for children to have access to green spaces to positively support their mental health.

The bottom right corner represents a safe space in school. When you feel unsafe, even in your mind, it’s nice to know you have access to a safe space with safe people.

In this version of Scotland, all adults understand and respect children’s rights. Children want to work with adults to improve their lives at home, in school and in the community.

Sam shared this work is important because;

“Children want to be happy and want everyone to be treated equally.”

When reflecting on what work has already been done for children’s mental health and wellbeing, Chiara shared;

“It isn’t getting to the heart of the problem. They need to listen to what we’re saying.”

We loved working together to create these visions for Scotland, and hope they are closer to reality soon! The Executive Team Meeting was a resounding success, and during the meeting, a decision-maker shared “we heard you.” We are looking forward to hearing about the progress the decision makers have made towards actioning the children’s issues. It has been a joy working with the CHRD crew for this school year, and we can’t wait to continue that work after a restful summer holiday!

Date: 4th July 2022
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