Children are central to every undertaking of HCDI and its implementing partners. It has been noticed over time that children themselves rarely get the opportunity to share their views, thoughts, their desires, their likes, their dislikes, and their opinions on the things they believe to be pivotal to their own development. A lack of communication between adults and children and a lack of acceptance of children in the decision making process have hindered the development of their health, their education, and their ability to make their own choices. It is to counter this nonparticipation that HCDI has brought about the concept of the Children’s Parliaments.
The Children’s Parliament is a group of children of a particular village, neighbourhood, or region who come together as a group for activities, learning, and to represent their interests and opinions to the decision makers of the village. This ensures that children, who remain at the core of all our projects, get a say in matters that affect them directly. A Children’s Parliament receives, and is involved in, the following development and training activities:
- Equipping children with the basic concepts of the Children’s Parliament
- Providing life skills’ education
- Equipping children with the knowledge to maintain sustainability of the Children’s Parliament
- Teaching children about child rights
- Undertaking activities that focus on the children’s health and education
- Teaching children the art of negotiation and group decision making
- As a group, the children can share their common concerns, debate over them and arrive at plausible solutions which can then be shared with those adults who can make a different.
- As a group, the children receive greater importance from adults in decision making processes.
- Being part of a group enables the children to build their confidence and approach other children and adults with suggestions on how to better their conditions and prospects.
- Youth clubs are formed through the Children’s Parliaments, allowing the youth to come together for productive purposes.
- As a group, the children take up productive and developing activities such as annual sports, village get-togethers, as well as excursions to other developed villages and regions from where they gain visions for their community development.
Outcomes of being part of the Children’s Parliament
The Children’s Parliament, through its many activities, equip the children with multiple skills as well as the platform through which they can make their voices heard. As a result, children are freer in their opinions, and their thoughts, with the following depicting some of the many outcomes of the Children’s Parliaments: