A nation is democratic to the extent that its citizens are involved, particularly at the community level. The confidence and competence to be involved must be gradually acquired through practice. this is the reason that there should be gradually increasing opportunities for children to participate in any aspiring democracy, and particularly in those nations already convinced that they are democratic. With the growth of children’s rights we are beginning to see an increasing recognition of children’s abilities to speak for themselves. Regrettably, while children and youth participation does occur in different degrees around the world, it is often exploitative or frivolous. (Roger A. Hart)
In March 2016, specifically on the 23th, 24th and 25th, CeLIM promoted an event with the participation of children basing on the concept of democracy, understood as the extension of the ability of citizens to exercise their citizenship actively, especially at the level of decisions belonging to the community. The key point of the event was to involve children from the process of creating the campaign, as the flyer, choosing designs, colors and formats, until the distribution of these materials in community schools.
- To beautify the city, bringing happiness and joy;
- To enrich with exciting and aggregative activities the holiday period;
- To communicate thoughts that everyone can see;
- To free the creativity, creating beauty, and improving the neighborhood by giving to it color, but always respecting the environment and the rules;
- To develop exchanges and activities among students from different schools and families in the territory of Milan and, specifically in the area 6.
All the preparatory work until the day of the event was organized by volunteers of CeLIM: each one was responsible for a part, me for example, I was tasked with all the graphics and media, and I have also followed some civil service volunteers in meetings with the Comune of Milan and Ivan Tresoldi, a street artist which during the week of “the wall” was responsible for leading the activity and finally put the ideas on the wall.
The activity basically unfolded in three consecutive days where:
First day: reception and presentation activities, program introduction, beginning with a brainstorming on the issue chosen: migration. Everyone thought to a word related to the issue and shared it with the group; then we were divided into small groups, and the participants prepared the sketches that will become paintings on the wall the day after.
Second day: Preparation of the space, discussion on the importance of keeping the environment clean and avoiding waste, especially when working with painting, introduction to the colors and painting techniques with the artist Ivan Tresoldi and realization of the first step in white on the walls. With the help of volunteers, he started to put the first traces and first colors.
Third day: Finalization of all the drawings with some written details made by Ivan, Then, we cleaned and organized the space.
After the campus students of Narcisi school, who made part of the Blog Ragazzi of the 6th Zone, another Project of CeLIM, wrote the campus reports and photos in order to promote information on the activities of the community.
To reach our goals we have used the “participation ladder” elaborated by Roger Hart:
Degrees of Participation
Assigned but informed
when the real “actors” (children) are informed of the project objectives addressed to them and play an active role in the implementation phase.
Consulted and informed
when the project objectives are also constructed by consulting the kids.
Adult- initiaded, shared decision with children
when they are defined general objectives by proposers (adults) but the operational decisions are defined along with all recipients.
Child initiated and directed
when adults exert a role only facilitate and provide the tools to achieve objectives designed by the recipients.
Child initiaded, shared decision with adults
when the beneficiaries of the projects (the kids and the kids) initially define the objectives and operational decisions are made and implemented together with adults, even with variations in the pipeline.
This way of working with the children came up to be definitely a functional way to get in touch with them and to think about many current issues, making them play and not staying on a theoretical level.
The people who got involved were: the municipality of Milan, the office who takes care of education, and the office that deals with leisure and Public Works. The comprehensive school of Narcisi and Marconi, and the Institute and Association of parents, EVS volunteers, Celim witnesses of the Civil Service abroad; we also had the intervention of Alexander Salimei (the CeLIM expert in volunteering in the developing countries) who spoke with the guys from WEDNESDAY blog on May 25 to explain how it intends to proceed with the transfer of experience abroad, in particular in Lebanon where performance in the coming school year with the murals of Beirut ,always on the theme of migration and with the participation of Italian volunteers: young journalists of blogs have spread the news!
For me it was an incredible experience to be part of a project from the beginning to the end, the most beautiful thing was that we were making children think about immigration, letting them express through the drawings, so it was also one of the funniest jobs I could ever do. Today I can understand much better the power of a campaign, the human development especially in youth, I am very grateful that I had a chance to be part of it.