What is it?
It's listening to and involving the children and families you work with. It's supporting them in playing an active part to influence and make decisions about the services and activities that they're part of. It's good pratice, common sense and when it's done well, everybody benefits!
The experts say participation is
“active involvement of children and young people” Hear By Right, Participation Framework
“sharing decisions which affect your life and the life of the community where you live” Roger Hart, sociologist, widely acknowledged as Participation guru
“a process where someone influences decisions about their lives and this leads to change” Participation Works, consortium of six children's charities
“the active engagement of children and young people throughout their communities” Wikipedia
The real experts (children & young people) say participation is
"Making decisions"..."Being able to say no"...."Being listened to"...."To have my say in things to do"..."Be part of the picture"..."Sharing"..."Can help you blossom"..."Finding out about myself"..."Participation is laughter and fun".
• recognising the value of children’s knowledge and contributions
• sharing experience and expertise with children
• learning from children
• finding ways to make it easy for children to make decisions and implement them
• helping children and adults to understand their rights and responsibilities
• sharing power with children
• working towards respect for the rights of younger citizens
Participation does not involve
• suggesting to children what they should think or say
• thinking adults have nothing to learn
• devaluing adult’s experience and expertise
• using children to do adults’ work
• no rights for adults and no responsibilities for children
• handing over all power to children
• keeping things the way they are now
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Enshrined in law
The United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (1989) states that children and young people have a right to have a say in things that affect them (Arts 12 & 13) and we need to support them in that (Art 42).
Under the Childcare Act 2004 (amended 2006) local authorities have a duty to listen to the voices of children and young people who they provide services to.
It's good to talk
A handy booklet giving ideas on about how you can use processes like recruitment and selection, induction, appraisal and training for staff and volunteers in your project to improve communication with children. There's also links to successful case studies and learning from others' participation experience.
On the Rights of the Child
"The most important thing in a child’s life is the quality of the relationships they make". Children's author Michael Morpurgo inspires through his Richard Dimbleby lecture. Watch this clip.