New year, new inspiration

UNICEF hosted an event drawing youth from across Thailand eager to learn about UNICEF and their rights

Sirinya Wattanasukchai
A group of enthusiastic young people gathered outdoors, holding signs with various supportive messages like #Opportunities, #MentalHealth, #Dreams, #Careers, and #Future. They are standing in front of a classic building with large windows and green shutters. At the center is a large banner with the text 'I dream of... for children' and UNICEF banner. To the right, there is a person in a large, friendly UNICEF Teddy Blu mascot. Everyone is smiling, creating a vibrant and hopeful atmosphere.
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
25 January 2024

It was the early morning of the first Saturday of the year, and a lively crowd had gathered at the entrance of the UNICEF office on Phra Athit Road. Youthful and eager attendees arrived early for UNICEF Thailand's first Open House. 

The Open House was primarily aimed to commemorate the upcoming National Children’s Day and to inspire children and young people from across the country to gain a deeper understanding of child rights. The event, first in 75 years, aimed to open the door to the public, especially the younger generation, providing them with an up-close look at UNICEF’s missions through diverse activities. The gathering evolved into a day where young participants expressed their concerns regarding challenges faced by children and hope for a more inclusive society. 

Exclusive walking tour of the centuries-old office building.
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Exclusive walking tour of the centuries-old office building.

The day began with an exclusive walking tour of the centuries-old office building, and time exploring UNICEF's 75-year missionn through the exhibition 'Our Story, For Every Child,' followed by a game. The afternoon featured Q&A sessions with UNICEF officers, called ‘Talkable Books,’ and closed with a talk by renowned YouTuber and influencer Raziqaa Paneewong, AKA Softpomz. 

Children are gaining insights into child rights through morning game session.
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Children are gaining insights into child rights through morning game session.

“The morning game session was edutaining,” said Phawat Wannasri, a 16-year-old high school student who left his house in Sing Buri Province at 4 a.m. to attend the Open House that morning.  He enjoyed the 'Children’s Rights Game: Life and Rights Journey,' while gaining insights into child rights at different ages, ranging from 0 to 20 years old. 

The exhibition walkthrough and the 'Talkable Books' segment were equally popular providing participants with an opportunity to to ask staff questions. The attendees exhibited remarkable enthusiasm, arriving well-prepared with thoughtful questions. Some sought insights into the challenges of advocacy. The engaged and inquisitive nature of the participants added a dynamic and thought-provoking energy to the event. 

Young enthusiasts are engaging in the 'Talkable Books' segment by asking questions.
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Young enthusiasts are engaging in the 'Talkable Books' segment by asking questions.

Phawat described the Open House as "eye-opening," emphasizing its impact on his awareness and knowledge. Despite dreaming of working for a United Nations agency, he had never before been given the opportunity to participate in such initiatives. 

Phawat was chosen as one of the 40 participants from 66 applicants. Selection criteria included an age range of 15 to 20 and their motivation to attend. Some had experience working with UNICEF, while others were eager to learn about the organization for the first time. What united them was a foundational understanding of child rights. Through their applications, they expressed a shared desire to educate themselves further and deepen their knowledge in this crucial area. 

Nathanicha Kanthapichart, a 20-year-old political science student from Bangkok, gained new perspectives from officers during the Talkable Books section.

"I used to perceive the education subsidy for the disadvantaged as nothing more than a quick fix, lacking sustainability. Yet, engaging in a conversation about social policy has broadened my perspective. I now understand that the subsidy serves as a long-term social investment, enabling those whose parents can't support them financially to access education."

Phawat Wannasri
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Phawat Wannasri
Nathanicha Kanthapichart
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Nathanicha Kanthapichart

This social investment is what Nurraimee Langket from Satun hopes for her young counterparts in the Southernmost provinces.

“I've witnessed many disadvantaged children in my area whose parents can't afford to enroll them in school like me,” said Nurraimee, a 17-year-old high school student who recently discovered UNICEF's Young People Advisory Board (YPAB). She aspires to become a YPAB member to be a voice for them.

Waris Waewwanjuea, an 18-year-old high school student from Bangkok, observed Rohingya children in his neighborhood, born to migrant workers, excluded from formal education despite being of school age.

Witnessing them play and converse in their native language, while not being enrolled in school troubles Waris. Concerned about their future prospects, he reflects, "I can't imagine how they will grow up in this country or survive in the future if they can't access education. They will not speak the language or acquire any knowledge."

Nurraimee Langket
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Nurraimee Langket
Waris Waewwanjuea
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Waris Waewwanjuea

Inspired by a day learning more about child rights, he plans to address the matter with community leaders or local officers to ensure these children receive the education they deserve regardless of nationality.

The day concluded with a canvas-painting session where young participants shared concerns and hopes around issues affecting their lives, including education, mental health, and climate change. Many wrote wishes for a more equal society where no child is left behind.

Young participants enjoyed a special session by YouTuber and influencer Raziqaa Paneewong, AKA Softpomz.
UNICEF Thailand/2024/Phutpheng
Young participants enjoyed a special session by YouTuber and influencer Raziqaa Paneewong, AKA Softpomz.

Communication officer Nipattra Wilkes said the Open House exceeded expectations. "These young participants are incredibly passionate and eager to learn, possessing an advanced understanding of child rights. Their enthusiasm for delving into social problems and actively seeking ways to contribute was beyond what we anticipated," stated Nipattra.

"A day with these young enthusiasts has confirmed that youth participation is crucial for building an inclusive society," said a proud Nipattra when the day ended.

UNICEF Blog

The UNICEF Blog promotes children's rights and well-being, and ideas about ways to improve their lives and the lives of their families. We bring you insights and opinions from young people, our partners, child rights experts and accounts from UNICEF's staff on the ground in Thailand. The opinions expressed on the UNICEF Blog are those of the author(s) and may not necessarily reflect UNICEF's official position.

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