In this Year of Childhood, January’s focus is all about storytelling:
To inform the Year of Childhood programme we want to truly understand what makes for a happy childhood where children are nourished and can flourish. What makes children feel happy, healthy and safe. We invite you to help us create this picture.
If you are an adult, please share with us your memories of childhood. What helped you flourish? What impact has your childhood had on your adult life? And recognising that not all childhood memories are happy, what would you change to ensure children growing up today are happy, healthy and safe and live with dignity?
If you are a child or young person please tell us what makes you feel loved and cared for, understood and happy. Tell us the messages you want adults to hear about the importance of childhood experiences.
Please submit your stories in no more than 500 words. We welcome photos, drawings, poems or other creative ways you would like to use to illustrate your story.
You can send your stories in a number of ways:
Post: Children’s Parliament, Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL
Online: via our web form below
We have two lovely examples from Clare and Colin, we hope you enjoy reading them and that they inspire you to share your own.
F is for Flourish – Clare MacGillivray
What does a child need to flourish? For me it’s all the F’s!
I was born and grew up in Dundee. I had an incredible start to life. Everything I treasured in childhood, still gives me joy now.
I have an amazing family. My childhood was engulfed in warmth and love. As well as my parents and brother, I had a big close knit extended family whom I spent a lot of time with. The sense of security of being unconditionally loved was the greatest influence in enabling me to flourish.
I remember a lot of laughter in my childhood. I had immense fun and freedom to play. I was encouraged to explore and experiment, building dens in the house, painting the shed wild colours, climbing trees, playing football in the park. And as I got older, exploring the countryside with pals, only coming home when it was getting dark or we were hungry. My childhood gave me freedom and self-confidence.
Dundee is a bit of a village really. I grew up in a strong faith community. Ideas of living in service to the most marginalised and enabling human dignity developed there, along with a love of people and community.
Sharing food socially at family gatherings was a wonderful highlight. Every Sunday we went to my Aunty Jean’s for a bacon roll after Mass. I learned to cook and bake there at an early age. My earliest memory is baking scones with Aunty Jean, standing on a chair at her kitchen bunker at the age of four, revelling in the freedom of making a mess and learning to bake like her.
As a child I played the fiddle. I cherished music, and although I gave up playing in my late teens, my appreciation of music remains strong.
And then there was football. I grew up in the 80s supporting Dundee United. There couldn’t have been a better time to adore the beautiful game. United won the league when I was 9 and had amazing European cup runs. It really was the best of times going to Tannadice with my Uncle Michael and big cousins… and the worst of times (those regular trips greetin’ all the way home from Hampden cup final defeats were heart-breaking lessons in resilience).
Growing up in Dundee gave me a compelling sense of social justice and fairness. My grannies told me stories about the mills, cosying me in singing the working songs of Dundee. The words of the weaver, Trade Unionist and activist Mary Brooksbank’s Jute Mill Song have lingered long in my heart, defined my life choices, and led me to a career in human rights and community development.
“Oh dear me, the world is ill divided,them that work the hardest are aye the least provided!”
So, the F’s that defined my childhood have deeply influenced my adulthood. I wish that every child in Scotland gets the chance to find the freedoms they need to truly flourish.
In the late 1950s, when I was a small child growing up in the village of Ardrishaig on the West Coast, I remember being out with my mother one day when we met another mother who had recently had a baby. After they had chatted for a while, my mother gave me two half-crowns (five shillings, and a serious amount of cash to my four year-old self) and told me to drop them into the baby’s pram. I did so, wondering what it was all about, and asked her later why she had done this.
“It’s a way of saying to the baby, ‘welcome to the world, and here’s a wee something to help you along in it’”.
When, years later and now a grandfather myself, I heard of the Scottish Government Baby Box scheme I remembered this incident, thinking how happy my mother would have been to see her instinct of generosity to the newborn now being taken forward on a national scale.
Sharing your childhood story
Please note: we will not be able to return any submissions.
We look forward to hearing your stories about childhood.