Children and young people from Swansea celebrate their right to be heard

Today children and young people across Swansea are celebrating the recognition of their right to be heard now that the City and County of Swansea becomes the UK capital of children’s rights.

Children's rights schools singing

At a celebratory event at Swansea University’s Institute of Life Sciences children from schools across Swansea gave performances before an audience of dignitaries, to explain why children and young people’s rights matter and why they are delighted that their local authority is the first in Wales to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Pupils from Cadle, Burlais, Brynhyfryd, Gwyrosydd, Penllergaer, Glyncollen and Llanrhydian joined the pupils from Blaenymaes, Hafod and Pentrehafod Schools to sing the uplifting World in Union song and their own emotional School Rights anthem.

The children listened to celebratory speeches by Keith Towler, Children's Commissioner for Wales; Dragan Nastic and Sara Hooke, UNICEF; the Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan, Chancellor of Swansea University; Prof. Richard Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University; the Leader and Cabinet Members of Swansea Council and Dr Anthony Charles, Swansea University.

Children's rights mascot winner

All speakers congratulated this new unique approach by the City and County of Swansea which will enshrine the rights of children into council policy and welcomed the partnership between the Council and Swansea University which will enable the University, which hosts the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People, to act as the Council’s children and young people’s rights external Monitoring Body.   

The Leader of the Council, David Phillips also unveiled the new UNCRC mascot for Swansea at the event.

Adopting the UNCRC means a duty will be placed on Swansea Council’s Cabinet to have due regard to children and young people’s rights. An annual Children and Young People’s Rights Scheme will be published to let people in Swansea know what the Council is doing to embed due regard and children’s rights, and the authority will continue to work closely with Swansea University to ensure that what it is doing is both working and transparent. The adoption builds on the council’s long-standing work to realise and support children and young people’s rights through its policy and practices.

Rt.Hon. Rhodri Morgan, Chancellor of Swansea University, who as First Minister was responsible for introducing the proposal for the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011, said;

“It is great for me to see Swansea - both the City and County and the University - making new and significant gains on children and young people's human rights.

“As First Minister I was determined to make our law support our distinctive commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This happened with the passing of the Welsh Measure in 2011.

“Now, as Chancellor, I am especially happy to know that the University has contributed to the development of Swansea's ground-breaking local 'Measure' and that the University, along with the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People, will be playing a key role in following it through.”

Councillor Mitchell Theaker, Cabinet Member for Opportunities for Children and Young People said;

“When the Council approved the Motion that I and Councillor Will Evans laid before it on 24th September 2013, Council did much more than simply create a new policy. It sent a clear message to children and young people in Swansea that we value them and want them to excel.

“Through this Motion, the Council sent out a clear signal that it wants to crush poverty in our City, create opportunities for those who are often most vulnerable, and ensure that each child and young person in Swansea is helped to be the best that they can.

“One of the reasons that I entered politics was to make a difference. I want every child and young person in Swansea to be able to make a difference too: a difference in their community, a difference in their own lives, and a difference to Swansea. What we have done in Swansea goes a long to set the scene so that this can happen.”

Blaenymaes, Pentrehafod and Hafod schools are among those which have already embedded the convention through the Rights Respecting Schools programme.

Bev Phillips, Head teacher at Blaenymaes Primary, said;

"The programme has enabled the children to better understand why we work the way we do and influence change for the better.

"Children are happier in school, they want to come to school in the morning and they want to help each other to learn.

"They are more confident and more able and willing to play a vital role in how the school develops and moves forward. It's also helped bring the wider community together too."

The launch event, which took place in ‘The Hub’ at the Swansea University School of Medicine, was live streamed across Swansea and appeared on the big screen in Castle Garden and was made available to school children via school moodle systems.

Picture 1: Pupils from Cadle, Burlais, Brynhyfryd, Gwyrosydd, Penllergaer, Glyncollen, Llanrhydian, Blaenymaes, Hafod and Pentrehafod schools sing World in Union at the celebratory launch. 

Picture 2: Mia Parsons from Glycollen Primary school shows her winning mascot picture to Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales.