Infrastructure, innovations, environment: children offered changes in their cities
What does the city look like with a child as mayor?
What does the city look like with a child as mayor? UNICEF held a contest that let children from all over Ukraine speak up about what they would like to change in their cities if they were mayors. Children could send their proposals in writing, drawing or in video form. The best ideas were depicted as a map called 'The City of Children’s Dreams'. The map will be used to advocate for and promote a child- and youth-friendly environment in the cities or local communities.
It is striking how children grasp burning urban problems. In their suggestions during the contest they talked about their cities’ infrastructure development, the adoption of new social programmes, innovations and improving the environment.
Among the problems the participants mentioned the need to develop leisure infrastructure for children of different ages as well as safe playgrounds, play centres, skate parks, and so on.
“My friends and I have nowhere to play. There is only a football pitch, but I don’t really like football. In Odesa, I’ve seen a park with skaters, rollerbladers and bikers. That would be great to have in our city, in our district”, says Rodion, a 12-year-old boy from Dnipro.
The children also highlighted the importance of keeping up to date. Cities should change with the demands of the times, they say. In this context the main challenges are renovating outdated housing stock; and rezoning cities to take account of increasing numbers of inhabitants and cars. It is also important to create innovation centres where children can learn the latest technologies.
“To do away with traffic jams, we should build another road, right over the existing one. And start using electric cars. Then global warming will stop,” says Rostyslav, a 6-year-old from Kyiv.
The children propose that it would be possible to improve the environment by installing air treatment facilities in manufacturing enterprises and planting more trees. Another idea was it teach city-dwellers the need to sort rubbish and recycle. For safety and environment reasons, children dream about developing cycling infrastructure.
“I wish so much that every person stuck to traffic rules. And that car accidents never happened again. If I were mayor, I would give a reward to any person following the rules,” says 9-year-old Svyatoslav from Poltava.
Children have not shied from social issues either. They suggest implementation of more programmes for low-income families, and continuing the development of facilities for persons with disabilities.
“We need many ramps. And they must not be as steep as they are now. So that mums with pushchairs and wheelchair users can use them with ease, going up or down,” notes 8-year-old Taras from Zaporizhzhya.
The project was conducted under UNICEF global Child and Youth Friendly Municipalities Initiative. The Initiative is a global movement that brings together local authorities, civil society and business to reach consensus in key areas for the well-being of all children and young people. In Ukraine, the Initiative partners are the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine; Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine; Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine; All-Ukrainian Association of Local Governments “Association of Ukrainian Cities”; Association of local self-government bodies “Association of consolidated territorial communities”; Public union “National Youth Council of Ukraine”..
Child and Youth Friendly Municipalities Initiative entails the advocacy for five basic rights of the child: the right to be heard, the right to healthcare, education and social welfare, the right to security, the right to a childhood, and the right to recognition and fair treatment. Municipalities that will effectively promote the rights of children and youth and deliver on their Action Plans will be awarded an official status that will enable them to cooperate closely with other child- and youth-friendly communities both in Ukraine and abroad, and attract investment, first and foremost investments in social projects.