Giving a voice to children

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Junior 8

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J8, Day 1. St. Petersburg. Introduction and Atmosphere

UNICEF, 2006/Alena Svirid
© UNICEF, 2006/Alena Svirid
French delegate, Sarah Labhar, ponders the future work of the J8.

By John Varoli

St. Petersburg:  Russia's Cultural Capital; the Venice of the North; the Northern Palmyra. This city is indeed as grand as these epithets
suggest. Criss-crossed by canals and rivers, home to scores of sumptuous palaces, caretaker of the world's finest art collections and theatres, as well as birthplace of many great scientists and inventors, St. Petersburg is probably Russia's single greatest contribution to world history.

Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St. Petersburg served as Imperial Russia's `Window on the West,' a showcase city where the vast and multi-cultural Eurasian continent could find a comfortable place for contact and dialogue with Europe. The stern Czar Peter opened up Russia to the outside world, and for over 200 years St. Petersburg gave birth to great achievements in nearly every area of human endeavour that have helped define the modern world.

Today, almost 90 years since the Bolsheviks seized power in St. Petersburg and abandoned this city on the Neva River to make their
capital in Moscow, another strong-willed Russian leader is determined to return the city to its former glory and to once again utilize it as a place for international contact and dialogue. Born and raised in a poor family in Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was known in Soviet times, President Vladimir Putin hosts the leaders of the G8 at his magnificent 19th century residence, the Konstantin Palace, from July 15 to 18.

The G8 leaders, however, will be getting advice on how to lead the world from some of their youthful constituents. With the astonishing White Nights as backdrop, a time when the sun only sets around just after midnight, from July 8 to July 18 St. Petersburg is also hosting the Junior 8, a meeting of youth from the G8 nations.

Courtesy of generous support provided by the Morgan Stanley International Foundation, teams of eight youths, ages 13 to 17, from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have made the journey to join their Russian counterparts.

From their well-furbished residence in the lush town of Pushkin, once known as the Czar's Village and home to the lavish Catherine Palace, the J8 are spending the next 10 days discussing some of the most important issues facing the planet today --- education, HIV/AIDS, and energy policy --- all of which will impact their generation, and generations to come.





Related links

Press releases

13 July 2006: At Junior 8 Youth Forum, delegates strategize to put intolerance in check
(including audios and videos)
10 July 2006: Children of Junior 8 gather to share views with G8 world leaders
10 July 2006: ‘Junior 8’ Youth Forum opens in Russia

Children to be given voice at G8

Stories, by John Varoli
Day 1: St Petersburg 
Day 2: Touring the sites
Day 3: Working day
Day 4: Working day
Day 5: Delegates strategize to put intolerance in check

7 July 2006: ‘Junior 8’ delegates arrive in Russia
5 July 2006: ‘Junior 8’ Youth Forum prepares to meet

UNICEF in Russia

Junior Summit J8 2006

J8 competition

Voices of Youth – Junior 8 2006: Russia

Interact with Junior 8 2006 participants


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