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Liberian children use radio to advocate for their rights

© UNICEF Liberia/2010/Scott
Jade Brewer host of the program "From me to you" at UNMIL Radio.

Monrovia, Liberia March 8, 2010 – Children across Liberia, on March 7 celebrated this year’s International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB).

All FM Radio Stations and 20 Community Radio Stations provided opportunity to the children to air their views and advocate on the issues that affect them.
 
"Kids you are coming on next right after this music," says Patrick Okai one of the radio producers at the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Radio. "Who’s doing the news update in this final segment? We need to wrap up guys we are at the end of this program."

"It is me," Yei Danlette Suah 16 years, one of the child broadcasters dressed in her blue T–shirt with the inscription “Tune in to Kids” on the front. With her neatly written script, and earphones on her ears, Yei went on to read the UNMIL Radio news.”

"As you can see, this is what the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting is all about – the voices of children being heard," says Chief of UNMIL Radio, Joseph Roberts-Mensah.

"As it has been since the start of the mission here in Liberia, we turn over our station on this day every year to children, and they do everything from news, features, interviews, and preparing a quiz contest to producing, writing and acting in dramas."

A big day for Liberian children
The International Children's Day of Broadcasting provides children with the opportunity to showcase their efforts and offers broadcasters the chance to be part of the world's largest media campaign for children.

But even more important, the ICDB allows children to learn about media and share their opinions and other information with their peers through an outlet that is not often accessible to youth.

© UNICEF Liberia/2010/Scott
UNICEF Representative Isabel Crowley in an interview with ICDB child broadcasters

"ICDB is a big day for us children here in Liberia. As you can see all fifty of us are happy and having a good time here at UNMIL Radio," Yei gestures to the kids running around. "As for me I am happy to be one of the major newscasters for today. I really like reading the news on air."

In this year’s event, over 200 children took to the airwaves especially at rural community radios. They aired quality programs for and about children. But most of all, the radio managers allowed children to be part of the programming process, to talk about their hopes and dreams, and share information with their peers.

The Day is a joint initiative of UNICEF and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Every year, thousands of broadcasters in more than a hundred countries take part in the day, celebrating it in ways that are as unique and special as children themselves.

"This year, we are calling on broadcasters nationwide to offer children a voice in their programmes and to highlight what people – young and old – are doing to change the lives of children," says Ms. Isabel Crowley, UNICEF Representative to Liberia.

"This is a great occasion to empower children by giving them the opportunity to speak their minds and have adults listen to what they have to say."

At the close of the day’s activity, all child broadcasters received gifts and a certificate of participation. At UNMIL Radio, prizes were given out to outstanding child broadcasters. Yei won the prize for the best newscaster for this year’s ICDB.

"I read the news three times today," Yei recalls. "I read one at10:45 am, 11:00am and at 1pm. I like reading very much. I hope to become a medical doctor and work as a cardiologist when I grow up." She smiles.

By Adolphus Scott

 

 
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