Sharjah youth spotlight emirate at Unicef meet - GulfToday

Sharjah youth spotlight emirate at Unicef meet

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The Sharjah delegation shared ideas and suggestions to define the format, agenda and outcomes of the Summit.

A four-member Sharjah delegation led by the Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBFO) has participated in the second Child and Youth Advisory Board Meeting, organised last week by the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) in Madrid.

The Child and Youth Advisory Board was established to ensure that the children and young people from Unicef Child Friendly Cities are given a voice before, during and after the first international Child Friendly Cities Summit, to be held in Cologne, Germany in October.

Two youth representatives from Sharjah, Mayed Al Mur and Shamsa Al Naqbi, along with SBFO representatives, Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SBFO, and Samya Al Mandoos, Head of Marketing and Events at SBFO, formed the delegation that represented Sharjah at this international gathering dedicated to children and youth.

The Sharjah delegation shared ideas and suggestion to define the format, agenda and outcomes of the Summit along with 12 other children and youth representatives from around the world, including Belarus, Belize, Finland, Germany, Guinea, Italy, South Korea, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SBFO, said: “We are proud to be part of the Child and Youth Advisory Board. It has afforded our children and youth the opportunity to voice their opinions through their peer representatives. This is in line with the vision and directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, that puts children’s rights as one of the key pillars of the emirate’s development strategy.”

Sharjah was named a Child Friendly City by Unicef in May 2018 in recognition of its outstanding efforts and accomplishments in the protection and promotion of children’s rights.  It was the first city in the Middle East to receive the prestigious title, and the first in the world to receive the title after successfully meeting the new international requirements and criteria launched by Unicef’s global Child Friendly Cities initiative in May last year, to ensure the fulfilment of children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Continuing its drive to elevate and protect the wellbeing of children in the emirate, SBFO has put in place a 2019-2021 executive action plan with a 5-goal focus for children and youth: That they are valued, respected and treated equally within their communities and by local authorities; they have their voice, needs and priorities heard and taken into account in public laws, policies, and decisions that affect them; they have access to basic essential services; they live in a safe, secure and clean environment; they have opportunities to enjoy family life, play and leisure.

A one-of-a-kind initiative launched by Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC) and Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBFO) – in collaboration with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) – is encouraging children to build up Sharjah’s public realm as they play one of their favourite games ‘Minecraft.’

10-year old Muhaimin, a Grade 4 student at the International School of Creative Science, said, “We don’t have to wait to grow up before we can become designers and architects to realise our dreams. Through this exercise, I can explore the area and I can build play areas, a cycling track, an exercising spot and whatever I can imagine.”

Another Grade 3 student, 9-year old Lama said, “Minecraft is a game about placing blocks and building something. I have been playing with it for many years now. I want to build a fountain, a skating rink, have more signages and ramps for my friends with special needs and install more bins in my public space.”

Students expressed their delight at this initiative through a two-day workshop that was held on Tuesday and Wednesday for 50 participants from the International School of Creative Science.

They were introduced to the initiative, its goals, and the importance of having their say in the design and development of public spaces. A brainstorming session was held where students shared their thoughts and ideas of what they liked and disliked, and organised their priorities.