Young reporters bring own perspective at UNICEF/IPU conference
YEREVAN, Armenia/GENEVA, 1 July 2011 – Young reporters in the Armenian capital Yerevan took over the cameras and the microphones at a recent international conference on child rights organised by UNICEF and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Making full use of the blogosphere and social media channels to report on events unfolding in real time, they clearly brought their own unique perspective. Entitled Making child rights a reality for the most vulnerable children, the conference focused on recent developments in early childhood development, violence against children and the way parliamentarians can have a positive effect on child rights in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEECIS).
Nane Abelyan (16), Inessa Manukyan (15), Norair Baroyan (14) and Hovnan Baghdasaryan (16), the young reporters at the conference, all visit the Manana Youth Center several times per week and develop their creative skills there together with many other children.
UNICEF Representative in Armenia, Leylee Moshiri said, “They brought a remarkable spirit to the conference. We saw such a wide coverage posted on a large variety of media and so many people being interviewed with very thoughtful questions.”
Young reporters supported by UNICEF have reported on major conferences but for the first time in CEECIS their efforts were put on a blog and updated as the events unfolded.
CEECIS Regional Communication Chief John Budd said, “The sense of immediacy is really evident. We are really pleased and intend to continue this approach for future regional events. Understanding the perspectives of young people, even on the most difficult issues such as how giving children the best start in life and reducing violence, can help to get rid of stigma and disparities.”
The region has long been supported by UNICEF and pioneered collaboration with the OneMinutesJr Foundation, which hold 60-second film making workshops. Using visual arts techniques, the short films bring an added potency when telling young people`s hopes, fears and dreams. Armenian young children, including those working with Manana Centre, have won One Minute Jr annual awards. The centre was highly enthusiastic in adding an extra channel _ social media _ to spread the word from the children.
Ruzanna Baghdasaryan, the director of the center, explains the special Manana approach: “We have an open door system here. There is always something going on, the children come right after school and start doing animations, filming, drawing, etc. During their school holidays, we open at 9 o'clock and by mid-day, we usually have at least 20 or 30 children in the different rooms of the center, busy experimenting with the technical equipment and developing new projects all the time.”
The interviews, mostly led by the two girls, Nane and Inessa. Being well prepared, they wanted to make sure there was no room for simple “yes” or “no” answers from the parliamentarians and the international experts. All videos were almost instantly uploaded to a specially set up blog and shared through Twitter and Facebook. They were also linked to many UNICEF country offices social media sites as well as the global Voices of Youth page.
Inessa said after the conference: “I liked the lively and helpful discussions after every session and the active participation of all the representatives. It was also very interesting and exciting to visit the rehabilitation center “Arbes” on the last day. The whole atmosphere during the three days was nice and to see that people care so much about children is great!”
And one of the two boys, Hovnan, added: “I liked the conference very much because this was the first time when young reporters were covering a big international conference. I liked very much that we were treated very seriously and that people were open for interviews and never refused to answer even the most difficult questions.”
By Chris Schuepp