Child Initiative Forum

Day 3: Child Initiative Forum

Day 3 of the Child Initiative Forum was an exciting one for the children!


Inspiring Ambassadors

We started off the day by having interactive sessions with the Inspiring Ambassadors.

Inspiring Ambassador Nawas encourages students to be hardworking and to go far in their education.  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Inspiring Ambassador Nawas encourages students to be hardworking and to go far in their education.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Inspiring Ambassador Sharon shares her insights and experiences with the children  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Inspiring Ambassador Sharon shares her insights and experiences with the children

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Inspiring Ambassador Maame Yaa interacts with children during the Child Initiative Forum  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Inspiring Ambassador Maame Yaa interacts with children during the Child Initiative Forum

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

The inspiring ambassadors encouraged children to see the benefits of working hard and persevering in their education. They inspired the children with stories of their own experiences, showing how they overcame struggles in their own lives to become the successful people that they are.

The ambassadors also served an important purpose in making the children feel at ease from the more informal setting. They are students themselves, they are Child Rights Clubs members, and have gone through many of the same experiences as the students and participants in the Child Initiative Forum. Children asked many of the personal questions they had, and, in the process, alleviated many of their fears and stresses on their future in school and life.

Inspiring Ambassadors  Maame Yaa,  Nawas and Sharon   Photo by Stephanie Gasana 

Inspiring Ambassadors Maame Yaa, Nawas and Sharon 

Photo by Stephanie Gasana 

Some children even exchanged numbers with the Inspiring Ambassadors so that they can continue to receive this guidance and encouragement even after they go home, and know that they have the support of someone who went through similar struggles and experiences.


Cape Coast University

Following the sessions with the inspiring ambassadors, the students went the Cape Coast University, where they were greeted by university staff who showed them the university, including looking in depth at the large library, something many of the kids, particularly those in isolated rural communities, are not exposed to. In addition, the university representatives spoke with the children about the opportunities going to university provides you, and how you can achieve this level of education.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana


Elmina Castle

The day and the Child Initiative Forum concluded with an excursion to Elmina Castle. Children got to explore an incredibly beautiful building steeped in culture and history.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Day 2: Child Initiative Forum

Day 2 of the Child Initiative Forum built upon the success of the first day. After singing the national anthem and participating in morning activities and games with the Child Rights Club patrons, the day began with an animated talk by Christopher Lartey from the Department of Children.


Christopher Lartey

Child Rights International Team-member Rebecca Interviews Christopher Lartey  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Child Rights International Team-member Rebecca Interviews Christopher Lartey

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

 

Christopher Lartey works in the Department of Children. He is participating in the Child Initiative Forum because the Department of Children believes that bringing partners like Child Rights International on board is important in coordinating and implementing child protection and ensuring the welfare of children in Ghana.

Christopher Lartey Speaks with the Students about Major Policies of the Department of Children.  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Christopher Lartey Speaks with the Students about Major Policies of the Department of Children.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Christopher came into the Child Initiative Forum hoping to expose the children to the two major policies of the Department of Children – the Justice for Children Policy and the Child and Welfare Policy – and to make them aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Throughout his talk, Christopher made sure his audience was active, encouraging them to speak up with their questions, comments and opinions. He emphasized that every child should have access to the laws and protections in place for them, but lamented that many children do not know how to access these services. He furthered that we need institutions to ensure that they are upheld, and that children understand what their rights are, how they can protect themselves, and how they can be protected.

While discussing the Child and Welfare Policy Mr. Lartey explained that the goal of this policy is to ensure that not only is the child as an individual being supported, but there are supports in place for the family and community that care for them. While policies and legislation such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Ghana’s Children’s Act are vital to the fight for the realization of child rights, supporting the family to support the child is an integral part of ensuring these efforts are effective.

In addition to the Child and Welfare Policy, Christopher Lartey also explained the Justice for Children Policy. This policy looks at three primary groups: victims, witnesses and perpetrators.

In the case of perpetrators, the justice system must treat them differently than adult offenders. Perpetrators, as well as victims and witnesses, must always be treated well, properly, with respect and in a safe environment. Children are still growing and developing, so it is important to recognize that rehabilitation is a priority.

Victims must be treated with respect and gently, so that they are comfortable coming forward and don’t feel they will be judged, mistreated or that the adult will not believe them. Witnesses must also be treated carefully. Children cannot simply be called upon to take the stand at a trial, as they are not yet as resilient as adults, and may find the experience emotionally traumatic.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Furthermore, privacy is a key aspect of the Justice for Children Policy. Children should never be exposed for coming forward as victims or witnesses, as this may expose them to stigma, judgement or harassment in their communities. In addition, the fear children sometimes feel when coming forward to report a crime by someone in power, such as a parent, teacher or community leader, is a strong deterrent to doing so. By protecting their identities, the children’s increases the number of children who will feel comfortable coming forward.

Privacy is not only important for victims and witnesses. Child perpetrators of crimes must also be protected. As previously mentioned, children are still developing, and may not fully understand the ramifications of their actions when committing a crime, or may feel it is their only option for survival. The Justice System is not only about punishment, it is also about rehabilitation and reintegration of children into society. To do this effectively, children should not be forced to face more stigma from their communities, and should not be bullied or abused for their actions when they have already been punished by the law. This is particularly important for those children who have expressed remorse, and are not trying to re-enter society as a positive and productive community member.


CRCs presentations

In addition to learning about these two policies, children presented what they learned in the interactive sessions, showing the deeper understanding of the issues they gained, and the knowledge they would use to develop the Child-Friendly Monitoring Tool.


Developing the Child-Friendly Monitoring Tool

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

During the final session of the second day of the Child Initiative Forum, children developed the Child-Friendly Child Protection Monitoring Tool. Through brainstorming in groups led by inspiring ambassadors and Child Rights Club patrons, the children wrote many ideas and drew pictures that showed their newly developed and improved upon knowledge of child protection issues – in the process putting together a comprehensive document that will be distributed to children across the country.

Day 1: Child Initiative Forum

Day 1 of the Child Initiative Forum was an unqualified success!

Director Bright Appiah give the opening address  photo by Stephanie Gasana

Director Bright Appiah give the opening address

photo by Stephanie Gasana

After an opening address by Director Bright Appiah, several speakers shared their insight on the forum's theme of: Promoting positive attitudes in children: how best can the law help?

Children register for the first day of activities in the Child Initiative Forum.  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Children register for the first day of activities in the Child Initiative Forum.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana


Yaa Peprah Amekudzi

Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Country Head of Mondelez International  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Country Head of Mondelez International

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

During her talk, Yaa Peprah Amekudzi spoke of the value of children and their skills and capabilities. Children should not be underestimated, they can learn and they can think for themselves.

It is important for children to remember that they shouldn’t believe everything they hear. People in life may tell you negative things. They may tell you that you are not smart or beautiful or tall, but children can be all of those things.

Take lessons from the national anthem. Humility, rights, growth and all of the values expressed in the anthem are things that will help Ghana to be great. We can learn a great many things from our traditions that can teach right and positive attitudes. Remember that as children, you have rights and you have responsibilities, and fulfilling them makes the future of this country more bright.

When you give children hope, you are giving them a voice, which is vital to society, because in moving forward as a country, Ghana will depend on our children.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Photo by Stephanie Gasana


Keynote Speaker Professor and Lawyer Ken Attafuah

Professor Ken Attafuah is a lawyer who trains others on subjects such as human rights and governance. He 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.

Lawyer and Professor Ken Attafuah explains the legal supports in place for children  photo by Stephanie Gasana

Lawyer and Professor Ken Attafuah explains the legal supports in place for children

photo by Stephanie Gasana

Hard work and determination are key in children reaching their potential in society. Ken Attafuah provided his own life experience as an example

As a child, Professor Attafuah was never the smartest person. In a class of 35 in primary school, he was 34th. But by adopting a positive attitude and good work ethic, he became 1st in his class. He went to a poor secondary school, but he didn’t let this environment stop him. He was inspired by his primary teacher to be perseverant and work hard, and through these values he found success. This confidence instilled by his teacher carried him to his successful career as a lawyer.

There are three primary legal Acts that Professor Attafuah noted: the Children’s Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Juvenile Justice Act. These acts protect children from abuse, and provide the best possible means of rehabilitating children who violate the law

Children who are abused are often frightened, timid and suspicious. Abuse promotes negative attitudes. Throughout the Child Initiative Forum, children are taught about what their rights are, as it enables them to understand both what their rights are, and how to ensure they are being met. In the case of discipline, children who understand that they must not be abused in the name of discipline are less likely to continue the cycle of abuse and believe that this is the only way to discipline their own children. Discipline is not violent, it is corrective.

For those children who violate the law, the Juvenile Justice Act seeks to ensure they can be supported and rehabilitated in society. The Act provides appropriate and individual responses to the needs of juveniles who are in trouble with the law. It also ensures that their privacy rights are met, limiting the amount of stigma against these children is limited, and they are more able to learn from the experience and move forward in life in a positive and meaningful manner.

Positive attitudes enable people to face adversity. The law can help promote these attitudes and confidence, and improve the future of this country. 


Mrs. Barbara Asheley Ayesi

In addition to the speakers, Mrs. Barbara Asheley Ayesi, Wesley Girls School teacher and parliamentary candidate for Cape Coast North, stopped by to greet the children and to affirm her support for the forum, saying that it is a valuable programme for building the confidence of children. She furthered by urging the children to believe in themselves, and protect themselves from being victims of abuse.

Mrs. Barbara Asheley Ayesi addresses the children at the Child Initiative Forum  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Mrs. Barbara Asheley Ayesi addresses the children at the Child Initiative Forum

Photo by Stephanie Gasana


Interactive Sessions

To end the day, the children took part in interactive session with several resource people, learning important lessons about the legal and justice system, child rights, child marriage, and health and wellness.

Foster Adzraku, from the Ministry of Gender, shares a laugh with students during one of the interactive sessions.  Photo by Stephanie Gasana

Foster Adzraku, from the Ministry of Gender, shares a laugh with students during one of the interactive sessions.

Photo by Stephanie Gasana