Almost 2000 young people from all over Bulgaria got together in the National Palace of Culture on November 20th to participate in the VOICE IT: Your Opinion Matters which was organized by the National Network for Children and hosted and facilitated by its Megaphone Youth Group. The reason for doing this event was to mark the 26 anniversary of the UN Child’s Rights Convention.
“We from the National Network for Children believe that the young people should have their own opinion and be part of the decision-making groups, at least of the ones shaping their future”, said the National Network for Children CEO Mr. George Bogdanov. “Encouraging a child to make a choice makes him independent and through the process of making his mind he teaches how to formulate his thoughts. If a child is able to go through that process regularly now, he will do it better as an adult and will be able to be responsible for the decisions he makes”, continued Mr. Bogdanov.
Yuliana Rumenova, a Megaphone member and volunteer from the Youth Parliament of Samokov commented that “it is not enough to hear someone, we need to listen to what he is actually saying and to take his opinion under consideration”.
“Often the children are supposed to do what they are told rather than participate in the decision making process”, mentioned Mr. George Apostolov, Board Member, and continued, “ What we do is working with children instead of working for them”.
Angel Kovachev, X Factor star, addressed the participants with a few popular songs.
During the VOICE IT fest, a few ideas and initiatives done by children with support from adults were presented. A few school –children groups presented videos they shot themselves, videos that touched social issues such as civil sexual education, lack of tolerance and school violence.
In the p.m. hours, the event went on with different discussion-panels, workshops and exhibitions which offered all attendees a form of participation they found interesting: UNICEF facilitated How to do a child’s rights class in 4 steps and 45 minutes? Other two workshops offered How to pull the civil rights out of the corner? and How to make my ideas true? Youth Flower Theater Company performed an interactive play that involved the views.
A very interesting element of the fest was the work bazar, which hosted professional stand from different NGOs, such as For Our Children, National Alliance for Volunteers, Book for Children, Hand for Help, Step for Bulgaria, Integra Bulgaria, P.U.L.S., 2001 Social Dialogue and many others.
IBM Bulgaria sent six young professionals who volunteered to answer questions related to the young people career development. The Bulecopack raised environmental awareness among the visitors and its stand was constantly busy. Hissar donated the mineral water for the event.
The whole event was organized with the support of NGO Program in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and Children and Youth Participation for Better Citizenship Project.