Smart Solutions

Childhood’s power for community


Access to the Tool :


Contact :

Contact person : Blanca Alfonso de la Riva

E-mail : alfareriaenanso@gmail.com


What is the purpose

Consult the local community through the involvement of children

The method aims at helping the local public institutions, local governments and other relevant bodies to listen, assess, make visible, and collect the proposals of local children and adolescents about the situation and suggested improvements of the local community. Youth involvement, in turn, has improved the engagement and commitment of the adult community to design and implement local initiatives identified.

The tool is based on the observation that the capacity for listening and the creative elaboration of ideas of children and adolescents in villages is enormous, but they are rarely taken into account.

The ultimate goal of this consultation method led by children is to collect ideas to build a prosperous future for the whole village, engaging and building on the knowledge and experience of all generations in the village.

This method consists of:

1) Organising a workshop to promote reflection-action at school

2) Conducting interviews to collect local community proposals

3) Building relationships between the municipality and the child community to create a Childhood Council

How does it work?

Step 1 – The process starts by defining three key aspects:

  • What do you want to achieve with this tool? (e.g. jointly reflect on the issue of depopulation and involve the local community in developing solutions to respond to it)
  • What will be the role of the coordinating person? (e.g. to collect the proposals from the child / adolescent community and be the bridge between the child and the adult communities)
  • What will be the role of the child and adolescent community? (e.g. expressing their point of view, preparing the contents of the interviews, collecting proposals from the adult community, and forming the Childhood Council to continue transmitting the emerging needs and contributions to relevant institutions, associations or organisations)

Step 2 – Approaching the local school(s):

  • Proposingand discussingthe idea to the teaching team (e.g., through WhatsApp and visits to school)

Step 3 – Designing the reflection-action workshop:

  • Workshop planning(how we want to address the issue, what we will ask, or the materials we will use)
  • Workshop implementation(focused on collecting the childhoodcommunity’s ideas and putting them into action)

Step 4 – Developing question guide together with the child community:

  • Based on the workshop outcomes: the child / adolescent community will build a question guide to collect the adult community proposals for the village development
  • Discussion and validation of the guide: The child community sends and discusses the questions with the project coordinator(s)

Step 5 – Conducting the interviews / needs assessment:

  • The coordinator(s) supervises the question guide and chooses about 10 questions(the most key ones to collect quality information from adults)
  • The coordinator(s) contacts the adults to arrange interviews (e.g. contact through phone calls, given that in most cases they will be older people who do not use new technologies)
  • Conduct the interviews with the adult community: The interviewing team will be made up of the person in charge of the process and a couple of kids who will rotate for each interview.

Step 6 – Collecting responses  and developing report

  • Responses gathered will be collected and developed into a report with the help of the project coordinator
  • The report is shared with the local community, including educational institutions, people who were interviewed and any other interested stakeholders.

Step 7 – Encouraging the set-up of a Children Council

The process will lead to information and material that can serve as inspiration and guidance for the creation of a Children’s Council. (In the case of Ansó, the project contributed to the participation in the “Raise my hand” Child and Youth Participation Programme of the Open Kids LAAAB run at the regional level.Actions can be followed up with schools and teachers for longer-term planning, considering developing a more structured institutional format for youth involvement.

Who is the tool for?

1) The educational community: This tool can promote the importance of acquiring a responsible attitude already from childhood to the direct resolution of the problems or difficulties that concern us, so that children gain the skills and ability to be an active part of political and social life in the future.
2) The local community: The tool can open a way of direct listening, strengthening the feeling of belonging, inclusion and motivation to change.
3) Local institutions/ governance: The tool allows getting to know better the social realities that may go unnoticed, diversifying efforts and resources, and focusing on the most urgent or most important issues for the village.
4) The wider population: The tool is an example of good practices for the participatory development of rural areas.

Recommendations

For the planning of the reflection-action workshop:

  • The workshop must be creative and adapted to all ages (from 3 to 14 years old). 1h duration per group is enough.

For the implementation of the reflection-action workshop:

  • At the beginning it is necessary to explain the reason for the workshop, the roles and responsibilities of those involved and the voluntary nature of the involvement.
  • To facilitate reflection in elementary to high school ages, it is important to work from the emotional part (e.g. through a guided visualisation) and from there ask a round of formal questions about the topic that you want to work on. In the case of children, one should use playful tools such as stories.
  • The questions we ask must be open and related to the objective we have set ourselves. E.g .: Why we have less and less inhabitants? Why don’t young people stay here? What would they need to stay? And for children, what is the coolest thing about our town? What can we ask from the elderly to find out what they think?

For content creation:

  • It will be necessary to collect all the ideas in an accessible place (like a blackboard) and create thematic categories (e.g. work, housing, social network, etc.), this will serve as the guide that will help the children to construct the questions that will be used in the creation of the future interview

For the interviews:

  • It is necessary to ensure that interviewees are representatives, including relevant associations and people with a great impact on the village’s life, as well as of diverse sectors of the population: different ages, economic sectors, political ideology, way of life, etc. Also pay attention to the gender balance.
  • It is essential to have parental and maternal permission before taking any action, as well as for photographs.
  • It is important to give participant children the opportunity to they adopt the role of interviewer and the coordinator(s) should only support and facilitate the dialogue between the adult person and the children, and help deepening the issues that interest us. In addition, it is preferable that interviews are carried out in a pleasant place, and to contextualise the reason for the interview. 1h duration is enough.

Where was it used?

The tool was used in Anso (Spain), where three reflection-action workshops were carried out (September 2020) with three groups of children (kindergarten, elementary and high school). Approximately ten kids for each group were involved. (The structure of the workshop and the questions asked to children are presented in the tool.)
During the three days, ten interviews were done for twelve people (aged 21 up to 80 years old) in different outdoor places chosen by interviewees. Interviews were conducted by the Local Development Agent of the village and two kids for each interview. The questions that the children and the local coordinator finally chose were:


– What reasons brought you to Ansó and why did you stay to live here?
– What kind of job do you need to live in Ansó?
– Have you ever considered starting a business? What difficulties have you encountered?
– Do you know some who have considered coming to live in Ansó but at the end decided not to? What have been their motives?
– How would you convince people who are in doubt whether to settle in Ansó or leave?
– What do you think is missing in Ansó?
– What ideas can you think of to improve leisure in Ansó?
– How would you improve life here?
– What ideas do you have to make our village visible?


Due to the fact that the people interviewed originally came from Ansó but some of them were also newcomers, what we wanted to achieve with these questions was to know different points of views about the origin of depopulation and how to find the suitable solutions to enable the settlement of young people and families.
Finally a compilation report was written by the coordinator and results were discussed by the members of the council.

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