Info corner on children’s rights and children’s participation
The Society “Our Children” Opatija is a non-governmental society. It prepares and organizes activities for pre-school and school children in their free time. Its work is based on The UN Convention on the Rights of the Children, tasks from educational system of the Republic Croatia, and wishes and needs of children and parents. This society is a member of the Union of Societies “Our Children” Croatia which coordinates “Our Children” societies from the most Croatian towns.
The Society “Our Children” Opatija is initiator of lot of actions for children in its local community such as “Children friendly Towns/Municipalities” in Opatija and Lovran, and “For children smile in hospital”, in partnership with children hospital “Kantrida” in Rijeka.
The Society works on lot of projects for children and with children that promotes children rights and needs in our community. Children’s forums of the Society “Our Children” Opatija participated in many meetings of Children’s forums of Croatia, in meetings of forum’s members with Members of Parliament, and in international forums for children and family in Strasbourg and Vienna. They regularly promote children rights in their local community.
Forms of child participation in Society “Our children” Opatija
- CHILDREN’S FORUM – free children’s activity through which they learn about their rights and obligations, and whose work is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, educating children about peace and tolerance and their peers’ lifestyles in the world
- CHILDREN’S CITY COUNCIL (CCC Opatija) is an activity that allows the children’s opinions to be heard and appreciated by adults who make decisions on issues important to children in the city of Opatija. In 2011 CCC Opatija celebrated the 10th year of its constitution and active child participation in Opatija.
- MEETINGS of children with mayors, county prefect
- MEETINGS of Children’s Forum with MPs
- CHILDREN’S PUBLIC MEETINGS
- WRITING MESSAGES – children to adults
The Children’s Forum is an activity of Society “Our children” Opatija through which children learn about children’s rights and the UN Convention on children’s rights. Children’s forums have initiated actions for children. Children from Children’s forum are active participants in the local community. Every child can be actively involved in Children forums. They are activities in children’s free time where they learn about children rights, explore problems of children and report their conclusions to adults in the Parliament of Croatia Republic and adults in local authorities.
Children’s forums have initiated actions for children. Children involved in the work of the existing Children’s forums participated on the World summit about children, New York, 2002; International congress about children’s rights, Skopje/Ohrid, 2003; 6th Forum for the children and families, Council of Europe, Strasburg, 2003, 7th Forum for the children and families, Council of Europe, Vienna 2004, as the representatives of the children from the Republic of Croatia in the official delegations of our state. In 2006 Children forum engaged in International Campaign Tapori – the goal of the Campaign is to put accent on problem of poverty in the world and in our local community, and take actions to fight against children poverty. Every year children from forum write messages for poor children in the world; organize activities and workshops in schools in 17th Octobre about children poverty; organize exhibitions about children poverty in Gallery Laurus in Lovran. In 2009 we celebrated 15 years of Children’s forums existence and work. Children from Children’s forum are active participators in local community. In July 2010 representatives of the Children’s Forum of Society “Our children” and the Children’s City Council Opatija represented Croatia at the Children’s meeting on poverty and social exclusion in Brussels organized by Eurochild. In December 2010 we attended the signing ceremony of the EU to reduce poverty and social exclusion in Europe by 2020.
In 2012 the representatives of the Children’s Forum and the Children’s City Council participated in international conference: Investing in Children: Preventing and Tackling Child Poverty and Social Exclusion, Promoting Children’s Well-Being held in Cyprus.
In 2013 Children’s forum and Children’s city council and participated as peer researchers on theme of children’s participation in a project of Peer research which was initiated by organization Child-To child Trust from UK.
The Children’s city council of Opatija is a mechanism that allows children to express their wishes and needs to adults and to those who make decisions in Opatija. Activities are based on the UN Convention on children rights; Article 12 sets out children should be able to express their views freely on matters that concern them. The Children’s City Council of Opatija has its own statute. The children have real elections. Every child from 4th to 7th grade of primary school can complete an application form for the Children’s City council. After application, children have their own election campaigns and then elections are organized in every class. The two children who get the most votes from pupils of their class represent their class in the Children’s City Council. Every two years in May further elections are organized so other children can also experience and learn about participation. In every assembly there are two children from disadvantaged areas of Opatija – Dobreć, Oprić and Ika, from every class there is one female and one male pupil. Children from vulnerable groups are also involved in the Children’s City Council (children with special needs, children of single parent families, ethnic minorities). Its mandate lasts two years. Children participate in workshops about children’s rights and communication in Society “Our children” Opatija with their educators. Children’s councillors have sessions 4-5 times in a year. At their sessions children regularly ask questions of the mayor and chairman of the City Council and they get answers from them on the spot or in written form after the session. At the sessions they also present their results and projects. Every year children collect opinions from other children in the city about the needs of children for budget proposals, they make proposals for the city budget – part of which includes children. Adults present the city budget to the children. The Children’s City Council of Opatija has its own small budget of 12.000,00 kn for conducting a competition for projects for children and they allocate money to the project which they consider to be most useful. They also launched a project “Children’s best actions” every year to reward children who were involved in positive community activities.
Society “Our children” Opatija works on children participation actively from 1994. In that year Children’s forum in Opatija were founded. Children’s city council Opatija was founded in 2001. In 2014 Children’s forums celebrate 20 years of activity and work. Children are actively involved in various participative projects.
Realised projects of Children’s city council Opatija from 2001 till now:
1. Dear restaurateurs, we are also here
Children visited the hotels and examined how restaurateurs their offer for children.
2. „1, 2, 3 in touristic place are living we”
Children created a unique Croatian children guidepost through Opatija.
3. Welcome to Volosko, Ičići and Veprinac throuh children’s eyes
Visiting Volosko, Ičići and Veprinac (places in Opatija) children learnt about their history with a help of mentors, they proposed what is needed for children in those places.
4. „For happines, you need a friend”
The goal was to introduce citizens to the problems of persons with disabilities; the result of that project: barriers for people with disabilities on pedestrian crossings in Opatija were removed.
5. „Children’s day in Opatija”
Children in Opatija have their own day, lots of activities by Children’s city council are organized on that day.
6. „Let’s revive children’s playgrounds”
Children examined if playgrounds are being used, which are favoured and organized children’s gatherings on playgrounds.
7. Sport: children’s right or children exploitation?
Children researched their rights in sport and promoted physical activity for children
8. Safe on Internet – from Facebook to seaside walking trail
The goal was to develop and promote activities that contribute to increasing awareness of the risks and dangers of using computers and internet and how to avoid them and to promote healthy stile of living
9. „Let’s arrange a corner for children’s free time”
Initiatives for arrangement defectological and logopedic cabinet in Society “Our children” Opatija
10. “Marathon of friendship and tolerance
The aim was to promote intergenerational solidarity of children and adults and to sensitize the public to the tolerant and friendly behaviour. The marathon attended pupils from primary and secondary schools, kindergarten children, children with disabilities, athletes, celebrities, politicians, representatives of institutions caring for children and grandparents Club 60 +, “big” and “small” mayor.
Some of results: renovated and equipped children beach Tomaševac, beach Ičići and children’s playgrounds in Opatija, organized leisure time activities for children, sport and recreational activities, fun afternoon for kids, free help in study for elementary school children; travelling workshop in surrounding villages Dobreć and Veprinac; built skate-park, Children’s guidepost through Opatija— the first children’s tourist guide was printed; 29 children playgrounds in Opatija were constructed; arranged defectological and logopedic cabinet for children in Society “Our Children” Opatija.
Adults respect children’s opinions and proposals. There were about 1500 children participated in activities of Children city council and Children’s forum. CCC is participating in discussion about important documents: development and urban planning in the city. Adults present to children, city budget of Opatija that concerns children and they discuss with them on various themes. Children’s mayor is accompanying “big” mayor in protocol events important for children.