The Barcelona City Council's citizen participation team explains how children's participation is promoted in the city.
News published on the website of the Barcelona City Council.
The Barcelona City Council has been working for years to promote children's participation in the city's public policy decisions.
For many years, the Barcelona City Council has been promoting children's participation in different areas and levels: from listening to children's voices to direct consultation or participation in deliberative processes, among others.
One example is the Children's Proclamation at the Santa Eulàlia Festival, an educational and participatory project aimed at students in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades of primary school in the city's regular and special education schools to promote and disseminate children's rights.
The objective of this project is to initiate the youngest children in participatory processes based on co-responsibility and active citizenship and to introduce them to Barcelona's political institutions and citizen participation.
Aware of their rights
"The Children's Proclamation (Pregón) involves up to 25 schools each year, and between 600 and 5,200 students each year," explains Glòria Martínez, from the Department for the Promotion of Children. This program brings minors into contact with the institutional sphere: they receive directly from the mayoress the task of preparing the Santa Eulàlia proclamation and, during the process, they also create district decalogues that they read before the councilmen and councilwomen.
"In this reading, the children also express their concerns and worries to the political representatives, and at the same time ask them to explain the state of implementation of the demands raised the previous year," says Glòria Martínez.
Laura Conesa, tutor of 3rd grade B at the Doctor Ferran i Clua school, says that "it is a very interesting project that offers to work linguistic aspects with issues that matter to students and society. It involves the children a lot, and in some way opens up this vision to the adult world and makes them more aware of their rights".
Their students ratify this opinion about the Pregón, which this year was about sustainable food: Àxel Recasens says that participating "was a lot of fun, an unforgettable experience. I was very excited", and Génesis Pincay is proud of "having shared our ideas, which are different from those of the adults".
To develop these and other projects, the Barcelona City Council created a children's participation promoting group, a working space for reflection, self-learning and the generation of interdisciplinary knowledge among administrations to advance children's participation.
"We lead it from the Department for the Promotion of Children and it was formed in September 2017, with the challenge of defining a model of child and adolescent participation in the city of Barcelona," explains Anna Montolio, a technician in this department.
"For the last year," Montolio continues, "two working groups have been created, focused on deepening monographically on two topics that have been considered a priority: on the one hand, evaluation, and on the other hand, the construction of experiences of child participation".
Currently, the driving group on child participation is made up of municipal technicians from different areas and districts, the Education Consortium, the Barcelona Children's Institute and the Health Promotion Directorate of the Barcelona Public Health Agency. In addition, it is accompanied by two professors from the University of Barcelona, who have reviewed and developed the specific theoretical contents.
The challenge: the impact of children on public policies
The promoting group is very clear: the challenge is to raise the participation of children in the city from a new paradigm that considers that the youngest must be involved in the definition and planning of participatory initiatives in the neighborhood, the district and the city.
"These processes must favor the empowerment of children as subjects of rights capable of transforming their environment and defending these rights," Montolio explains. "For this reason we have been incorporating the participation of children in the services, programs and projects we carry out."
This is also called for in the 2010 Charter of Citizenship. Its Article 22.e states that all minors "have the right to participate in the development of the city project, and that the City Council will promote experiences and spaces for citizen participation aimed at children and adolescents."