Child Participation – Megaphone Programme
Every child has the right to express his/her own positions and opinions and to be taken into consideration in the decision making process (according to art. 12, 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).
The team of National Network for Children (NNC) believes this is crucial for children's development as subjects of rights. The necessity to advocate for these rights is an important aspect of child protection. A child who has not been encouraged to share his/her thoughts and opinions can face more challenges to address his/her needs for support from the significant adults.
The right of children to participate in their own lives supports the active citizenship within the communities they belong to. It also supports the transgenerational dialogue and prevents various problems coming from relationships based on power. In this context, the NNC believes that children's participation is a force that develops communities – within a neighbourhood, school setting or an organization.
The NNC created the youth network "Megaphone" Programme in order to promote, develop and advocate for the right of children to participate within the member organizations of the Network.
Nаtional Network for Children (NNC) has a long-term experience to enhance participation of children and young people in order to play a vital role in their own development as well as in that of their communities. “Megaphone” Program has played a central role of the NNC initiatives since 2010. The Program aimed at enhancing children’s understanding of human rights, more specifically to be aware of their own rights and to be able to promote them. Children and young people are trained in informal civic learning through child and youth participation approach. They are not only able to transfer their knowledge to the community they are living in but to discuss issues with adults and other children in order to improve the intergenerational dialogue and to voice peers’ opinions which otherwise will barely be heard.
Young people and children with whom the NNC is working with are coming from diverse social background and psychological environment. Everybody is encouraged to participate in a way he or she wants to be represented in the community in order to elaborate an individual approach and be able to take part in decision-making processes which can provoke the changes children want to stand for. The children become advocates for their own rights. Every child can try and develop different skills as an advocate, a journalist or as a researcher. In the context of “Megaphone”, children have been empowered to speak about their goals and rights with peers, teachers, journalists, representatives of local authorities and members of the Government and the Parliament. Children and young people are invited to participate in all key events of the organization. They take an active part in the process of preparation and presentation of the Report Card which reveals the level of support provided to children by the Government; the Golden Apple Awards – the awards given to professionals, institutions, organizations which advocate successfully for children’s rights; the Annual meeting of the NNC which gathers more than 130 organizations all together and Voice IT – the biggest event designed and organized by children and young people in Bulgaria.
Till today, more than 400 children have participated in “Megaphone” Programme.
“Children as researchers” Programme
Since 2017, the National Eurochild Forum activities in Bulgaria have been facilitated by the National Network for Children (NNC). NNC is an organization bringing together 130 organizations, working directly in the social field with children and families in Bulgaria. Child participation is one of our main priorities. The ‘Children as Researchers’ Programme enables children in forming their opinions and making research, which represents opinions of larger groups of children in terms of the topics they find interesting and important for their lives. Young people are involved in different types of learning spaces, where they can widely discuss key topics, related to their lives, form their opinions, present them and advocate for their rights.
The methodology unites elements of journalism and research and encourages the young people to work in teams. Children and young people (14-16) years old are invited to take part in a training where they identify the topics they want to work with. Some of the topical issues which they will explore in 2022-2023 are education, ecology, financial literacy, social media, school bullying and juvenile justice. The young researchers create the research instruments and participate in the data collection process, data processing and in the interpretation of the results. The teams are based on their interest to take part in one or more activities. As part of their training, they are trained how to write articles based on the results and how to create a podcast related to the topics they are working with. Each of the teams are supported by an adult throughout the process.
The young researchers are selected on an annual mandate. Every year about 14 children and young people from various non-governmental organizations take part in the Programme. There is a Bulgarian representative in the Eurochild Children’s Council. He/she is selected after a procedure which main goal is to choose a candidate part of the NEF. Currently, Alexandra Hadjieva has a mandate to be the Bulgarian representative for the next two years. NEF representatives have expressed their opinions on key priorities such as advocacy, management decisions and important events related to the work of the Eurochild Children’s Council.
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