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Forums empower youth to express themselves and make change

CCFC helps children understand their rights and work together to make a difference

By Rosanna Menchaca, communications manager, Paraguay

Children have the right to express themselves — to talk about issues that affect them and express their opinions. Indeed, it’s their right to be heard and put their words into action.

Unfortunately, Paraguayan adults have a hard time teaching their children to express themselves, since they couldn’t do the same in the political climate of their youth.

So, although Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) provides education and healthcare, we also encourage children to stand up for their rights.

Children learn their rights

Child and youth forums in Paraguay are helping children understand challenges, express ideas and propose solutions. And CCFC, with its local partners Global Infancia and Fundación Alda. recently hosted two forums — the first encouraged children to work together towards progress, the second inspired growth through change.

“I liked the forum. We [talked about the fact that] violence is never good,” said Maida, 7, a participant in the gathering designed to encourage youth to work together toward progress. She learned: “It is not good to mistreat or beat a child."

Discussion focused on environmental education, training opportunities, child protection, sexual and reproductive health, teen pregnancy, drug addiction and road safety for drivers and pedestrians, since there are many motorcycle accidents due to speeding, poor road conditions and more.

Youth learn to lead change

"We were talking about many issues, and the good thing is [police, teachers and the governor’s office] were listening to what we proposed; that can help us achieve the goals we set ourselves,” said Isaac.

So far, the 15-year-old and his peers are working together for the well-being of others, hoping to launch an awareness campaign on road safety and to improve infrastructure in public spaces.

Milner took part in the forum about learning through change. “We talked about the rights of children, what made us happy and the things we need; all of this was very important,” shared the 17-year-old. “After the forum, [we talked about] gathering delegates to set up a council on children and adolescence.”

Plans for the future

Forums are part of a bigger process. Locally, CCFC is promoting and strengthening child organizations and networks. Nationally, we’re working with Paraguay’s secretariat of childhood and adolescence to strengthen a network of child-based organizations.

We’re excited to see children and youth engaged and interested in creating positive change in their communities. To learn more about our work in Paraguay, visit ccfcparaguay.org.

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Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-focused international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For more than 55 years, CCFC has been helping children and families of all faiths move from poverty to self-reliance. CCFC supports children and communities in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, and works to improve the lives of more than 700,000 people around the world.