Children's Day Report
On 8 October Iran celebrates Children’s Day. The United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) in Iran has chosen “Listen to Kids!” as the main theme for this year’s celebrations.
Children have a lot to say, about their environment, homes, schools, neighbourhoods and cities and about the decisions that affect their lives.
As images often speak more than words, Peer Educators from Adolescent Friendly Service Centres in Tehran, Mashhad, Bandar Abbas and Qeshm are exhibiting their photos on Children’s Day as a way to show us that their world is to be taken seriously.
Adolescent Friendly Centres were initiated with the Health Ministry’s cooperation in 7 cities across the country in 2005. In these centres children get educated about HIV/AIDS and then educate their classmates, kids in their neighbourhood and family on the subject with their own language. This September they got photography training and then shot photos of their environment, neighbourhood and daily life with disposable cameras. Photos with a simple hope that says; “Listen to us!”
These photos look at the world from a different angle – their own. They show us a world mostly inaccessible to adults. They show us a world of friends among friends, recorded moments of dreams and challenges, sadness and happiness. But most of all, behind the visors of the peer educators’ cameras, they show us children as pioneers of a better life, for themselves, as well as those closest to them.
Children do not have much opportunity to express themselves. Many programmes are developed “for” them, but too often without their say. This year’s Children’s Day aims to remind us that whatever is done for children, let it be through media, education, protection or health programmes, is best done when children’s own views, aspirations, expectations and capacities are taken into account when and wherever possible. Children ought to be involved, commensurate with their age, in the decisions that affect their lives and be able to express their opinion about the issues that are important to them. Such is a child’s right, and a guaranteed means towards the better development of society as a whole. In short:
Children’s voices must be heard!