November 20 marks a hugely important date on the calendar – World Children’s Day.
Celebrated across the globe, the Unicef-led initiative is now in its 30th year and is designed to raise awareness and highlight the way the rights of children are helping to change lives.
It’s an opportunity to reflect on what has been done – but also to underline what still remains to be achieved.
This isn’t just about distant countries, it’s about what is happening on our own doorstep. It is about listening to the young voices in Aberdeen, understanding the hopes and dreams of the next generation and committing to taking action to put children’s rights at the heart of the decisions we make as a Council and with community partners.
At schools throughout the city on Wednesday there will be events in lots of different shapes and forms – but with the common theme of putting World Children’s Day up in lights.
On the day I will be joining Chief Officers and other council employees in taking part in a webinar of a different kind when we are joined by children and young people from city schools to discuss the importance of children’s rights and our steps to becoming a Unicef accredited Child Friendly City. You can join in from 12.30pm on Wednesday by clicking here.
We’ll also have VIP guests in Marischal College as pupils are invited to work with staff across the organisation to share their views in a variety of different ways across the day.
Throughout the day our Council social media channels will be taken over by World Children’s Day – sharing content from our schools and really raising awareness of all of the positive things that are happening. We have around 45,000 twitter followers alone, so there’s great reach with those posts and I’d encourage anyone who is active on Twitter or Facebook to join in and spread the word. The hashtag is: #childrensdayACC
Understandably digital media is the focus, but we have also arranged for pupils to take over the editor’s chair at the Evening Express – spending Tuesday in the Aberdeen Journals offices at Marischal Square preparing Wednesday’s edition and shaping the news agenda. You will be able to read their opinions in the comment column on World Children’s Day.
Look out in the weeks ahead for a video capturing some of the activities and showcasing our bid to become a Unicef Child Friendly City. A power of work is going on behind the scenes to gain the accreditation and plans are progressing well.
One of my own personal ambitions relates to our care experienced community and particularly in relaton to removing any notion of stigma or disadvantage. The recent Care Experienced Week, with a well-attended event at the Westburn Resource Centre, has given fresh impetus to shout loud and proud about the accomplishments of young people and carers as well as the vision for a future where every young person has the chance to fulfil their potential.
Big and important strides have been made, but there’s so much more to be done. As adults we shouldn’t shy away from that and have to take our lead from the passion and the optimism of the youngsters who are ready to grab opportunities with both hands.
My thanks go to the many teams who have been involved in preparing for World Children’s Day and the longer-term Child Friendly City project, both centrally and in our schools. Eleanor Sheppard, Graeme Simpson, Matt Reid, Gael Ross, Alison Cameron of Police Scotland, Ian Frampton, Paula Fullerton and Norman Adams have been at the heart of the planning.
Of course, the biggest thank you of all goes to the thousands of young people who are taking part in Aberdeen.
On behalf of the Council I’m delighted to pledge to listen and act on the messages coming through from every school and every community. We will continue to stand up for the rights of Aberdeen’s children and young people across the world.