Child Initiative Forum
Children as Global Citizens
Every year Child Rights International, in partnership with UNICEF, organizes an event, formerly known as Easter School, which provides a dynamic forum for children to actively participate in an open discussion about critical issues that affect their welfare and their enjoyment of their rights.
The active, voluntary and informed participation of the children is at the core of Child Rights International's agenda. This event celebrates and promotes children's unique contributions as citizens of the world, and values their voices and personal experiences.
Past forums include themes such as Juvenile Justice.
Promoting Positive Attitudes In Children; How Best Can The Law Help
Over the course of three days, Child Rights International, in collaboration with UNICEF, engaged children in our annual Child Initiative Forum, “Promoting Positive Attitudes in Children: How Best Can the Law Help?” with support from Right to Play and Mondelez International. The activities took place from August 15th to August 18th, 2016.
To begin the forum, the guest speaker, Professor Ken Attafuah, a lawyer and current Dean of the Faculty of Law at Central University, spoke on the issue.
Professor Attafuah spoke on how the law can support children, emphasizing that it is paramount that, at all levels and in all aspects of the law, the best interests of the child are served, which is called the welfare principle. He educated the children on three primary legal acts which are paramount to the wellbeing of children. These are: The Children’s Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Juvenile Justice Act. He explained that these acts protect children from abuse, and provide the best possible means of rehabilitating children who violate the law.
Using his childhood and life as an example, Professor Attafuah motivated the students on the need for persistence and endurance. Students were made to understand that persistence and hard work wins, irrespective of difficulties and presumed limitations. He encouraged teachers and patrons present to consistently instill confidence in their students as it goes a long way to impact their lives.
Following this talk, the children participated in interactive sessions. These sessions took place with three guest speakers, including Doctor Francis Agyarko Wiredu, Country Head Madam Yaa Amekudzi of Mondelez International, DSP Hilda Akarimanga, and Child Protection Officer Foster Adzraku from the Child Marriage Unit of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, who provided their unique views and experiences with child protection issues in their professions and their lives. In order to get the most out of these sessions, the children were split into three smaller groups, which were formed at random in order to ensure that each group included children from a variety of communities and of all ages. This enabled the children to form new relationships, to learn about perspectives different from their own, and gain a well-rounded understanding of child protection issues.
The second day commenced with a presentation by a Mr. Christopher Lartey, an officer from the department of Children, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Afterwards, children from secondary school Child Rights Clubs presented on what they had learned.
In the afternoon children spent time developing a child friendly version of the Child and Family Welfare Policy, as well as the Justice for Children Policy. The students also spent time working on a “Child Protection Monitoring Tool”. This will be used us a main document for children to monitor child protection issues in schools, communities and places designated for the welfare of children in Ghana.
The final day of the Child Initiative Forum featured trips to the Cape Coast University and Cape Coast Castle. However, before the children departed, there were sessions led by Inspiring Ambassadors, tertiary Child Rights Club members, who shared their experiences, successes and struggles, and inspired the children to pursue their dreams through hard work and perseverance. Following these sessions, the children departed for Cape Coast University.
At Cape Coast University, childre visited with school departments, where department representatives spoke about what they do and achievements students have made in this field. In addition, the children had the opportunity to visit areas of interest, including being able to sit in a university classroom to fully experience the university environment and inspire them to continue their education.
The final day of the forum ended with a visit to Cape Coast Castle, where the children went on a guided tour and heard the history of the castle and the city.
Promoting Positive Social Norms; The Role of Children
In partnership with UNICEF Ghana and Mondelez International Cocoa Life, the 2017 Child Initiative Forum was held over a 3-day period at the Koforidua Technical University. The theme for the forum was “Promoting Positive Social Norms; The Role of Children”
Day 1- OPENING CEREMONY
This was the opening ceremony of the 2017 Child Initiative Forum. It begun with an opening address by the Executive Director of Child Rights International Mr. Bright Appiah. He welcomed students, patrons and resource persons to this year’s forum and explained that the purpose of the forum was to look at the role of children in promoting positive social norms. He explained however that sometimes, that role and dignity of the child is lost in transition and is not always granted and hence the need to continuously protect children. He praised the role of technology and social media in promoting education and sharing of information but however critiqued the extent of nudity it exposes children to. He entreated children to be circumspect on the kind of online content they explore.
County lead for Mondelez International Cocoa Life, Madam Yaa Peprah Amekudzi was the guest speaker for the day. She clearly noted that every child needs to be confident in oneself because when a child becomes confident in him/her self they will not need to negatively expose themselves on social media. She encouraged children to be wary of the kind of advances they allow and entreated them to abstain from sex because they are still young. She made children aware that they have the power to change their circumstances. The two questions that she left the audience with where, “What have I done for myself?” and “What I am I doing to myself?”
The guest of honour for CIF2017 was the Eastern Regional Minister, Honourable Dr Eric Kwakye Darfour. Sharing his childhood experiences, he encouraged children to work hard and to persevere irrespective of challenges. He made children and all participants understand that child rights does not warrant disrespect or irresponsibility and encouraged children to strive hard to make a positive impact in their communities. He told children present to allow themselves to be moulded into responsible adults that can contribute to the development of the country. He also imbibed children with the awareness that they are members of the community and not just children and therefore they have the responsibility to learn, educate themselves and acquire even more skills beyond what technology offers.
Iddris Abdella, a child protection specialist form UNICEF Ghana shared that UNICEF's purpose for supporting the Child Initiative Forum was to drive social change nationally. Together, we all can make a change in the lives of the Ghanaian Child, he said.
INTERACTIONS WITH RESOURCE PERSONS
Mrs. Adwoa Amobi Oteng Mensah, a lawyer by profession and a lecturer at Koforidua Technical University talked to participants about the law and the different types of constitutions. Mrs. Oteng Mensah engaged in a discussion with the participants, asking them what positive social norms are for children. She explained rape and defilement and discussed how children can get help when faced with legal challenges.
Mercy De-Graft Savage a Land Economist and Law student engaged participants in a discussion on their understanding of this year’s theme. Once a member of the Child Rights Club, Mercy shared her experience with participants and revealed that three things she learned as a club member was to be compassionate, to love people and to relate well with different types of people. Mercy explained that through the club she gained a lot of exposure, meeting different public figures that had meaningful impact on her development.
Dr. Papa Nii Maale-Adsei a medical practitioner was very energetic with the children. He talked to them about the practice of a healthy student and what preventive health measures where to be taken in order not to get sick. Students correctly identified certain hazards to health, such as unsanitary bathroom conditions and unhealthy eating habits. Participants learned that the simplest action such as washing one’s hands can have many positive benefits such as helps avoid the common cold, chicken pox, diarrhoea and many other diseases.
Miss Joyce Owusu the creative director of Purple Trends tackled entrepreneurship with participants. Formerly a member of the Child Rights Club, she shared the joys and hardships of being an entrepreneur. Joyce adviced the participants to follow their smallest dreams of starting a business. She encouraged them that entrepreneurship is the backbone of the African economy and could be their refuge in the absence of mainstream employment. Joyce left the children with their imagination flowing!
The second day was dedicated to talent exhibition, story writing and games.Participants took part in a talent exhibition where they had the opportunity to share what they are most capable of doing. This was an activity to urge boldness and initiative among the children. Talents exhibited ranged from singing, dancing, poetry and drama.
The second part of Day 2 involved creative writing where children wrote stories of their choice but the mid-afternoon on Day 2 was dedicated to sports and outdoor activities. Children were put into teams that competed in a variety of games. The purpose was to encourage teamwork and to enhance socialisation. Patrons and staff of Child Rights International also partook in the games and sports, supporting the activities of children. Some games played on day 2 include Ludo, Oware, Ampe tournament, boys and girls football, tug of war and other games to create alertness and build teamwork.
On the third and final day participants engaged in some outdoor learning activities with a visit to the Aburi Botanical Gardens. Children learned the scientific names of tress and the medicinal effects of some other trees. Participants also had the opportunity to see the effects of parasites on trees and took lessons from the ‘tree about life’ which had been carved in the garden.
During the late afternoon, participants paid a visit to Tetteh Quarshie’s cocoa farm in Mampong. Participants discovered the history behind Tetteh Quarshie’s cocoa and others had the opportunity to taste cocoa for the first time.
Protecting Children In Cocoa Communities; Essential Foundation for Sustainable Cocoa
The 2018 Child Initiative Forum had representatives from child right clubs from basic schools, Senior high schools and the beneficiaries of the Tony Fofie Child Development Fund from Eastern region, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo , Western, Central and Greater Accra Regions. The forum was convened at the Takoradi Technical University from 12th August to 16th August
The forum begun with a day of interactions from a pool of resource persons who addressed issues on child protection, education, cocoa production and entrepreneurship.
Mr. Bright Appiah – Executive director of Child Rights International
He spoke on the essence of organizing the child initiative forum; equipping and empowering children to initiate things on their own.
Child Rights International’s objectives; looking out for signs of abuse in the communities and help educate them on their rights and responsibilities.
“Participation is deeply rooted in our culture because child development starts from the home and in situations where children can express themselves, the opportunity must be given to them to do so we need to give them the opportunity to do so”. He added.
Hon Gifty Twum Ampofo – Deputy Minister of Gender and Social Protection
She empowered the children on the need to be educated on their rights and the long-term effect that abuse can have on a child. She threw more light on the double track system for senior high schools and gave children the opportunity to ask her questions concerning the double track systems.
"Once you know, you can defend your right... We have to help educate parents on the effects abuse has on children”. She added
Mr. Abdul Razak Ziblim Salifu - Director of Agriculture from the Western Region stood in for Hon. Dr. Kweku Afriyie the Western Regional minister.
He expressed his gratitude for organizing this programme, he threw more light on poverty and the poor commitment to children’s educational needs by parents being a great barrier to children’s education and their holistic development. .
“Educating children is relevant for cocoa sustainability because they will be able to replace our aged parents with modern application of science in cultivation of cocoa for improved productivity and overall output of cocoa for the country to recapture our first position” He added.
Mr. Kudiabor Sylvanus – Guidance and counseling specialist at Takoradi Technical University.
He educated the children on career choices, type of occupation and vocational jobs available. Career interest, aptitudes, skills and personality type.
He advised them to choose occupations that fits their interest, values, aptitude and personality.
Dr. Mrs. Betty Francaise Freiku - A lecturer and an entrepreneur
She shared her story on how she took up her family’s business and became an entrepreneur, her experience, challenges and motivation.
"There is the need for parents to involve us in the family business because it serves as additional trade when we grow up” she added.
Children were divided into three (3) groups to discuss and share ideas on Child protection cases happening in their various communities, Cocoa sustainability and the merit and demerits of the double track system for senior high school education.
Patrons were shared among the groups to lead the discussion after which four (4) representatives were selected from each group to present their findings to the house.
Leaders of the three groups came together, joined their findings and developed it into a communique.
On the final day of the CIF, children were divided into ten (10) groups to represent the ten regions in Ghana and what makes the region unique.
Presentation on the ten (10) regions was exciting, children came up with celebrities, famous and important personalities coming from their selected regions, crops they cultivate, delicious delicacies and dance by their selected regions.
On the afternoon of Day 3, participants made a trip to Western Naval Base in Sekondi where they toured the Ghana Navy Vessel which was present at the time of visit. We went into the vessel to have learn about some of the machines for operating the vessel.