Midlands Teenager Plays Key Role Calling For Government Action

An Offaly teenager was involved in co-ordinating an event on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding Observations.

An Offaly teenager was involved in co-ordinating an event by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) that saw over 100 children from across Ireland discuss the action they expect from Government as a result of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding Observations to the State. Pieces of Us; What’s Next? has been published by the OCO, detailing what children now want to happen on key issues.

It follows a series of reports by the OCO as part of Ireland’s reporting process to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

16-year-old Ailís Malone from Banagher is a member of the OCO’s Youth Advisory Panel, which has played a key role in assisting the OCO in this process. 

5,515 children took part in a national online survey and 200 children participated in focus groups for Pieces of Us, the children’s report that went to the UN Committee in August 2022. Ailís and the Youth Advisory Panel travelled to Geneva to share the findings of Pieces of Us

This latest report Pieces of Us: What’s Next? is the final part of the process where children reflected on the what the Committee said and focused on the key actions they feel the Government now need to take.

The Youth Advisory Panel hosted the event in Croke Park hearing directly from children on what they had to say about the issues children care about in Ireland. 

Education, mental health, equality, play and leisure, hearing children’s voices and protecting the most vulnerable were the key themes for children.

Children are calling for a series of changes in schools and education settings. They want to take the pressure out of the Leaving Certificate; remove the stigma around the Leaving Cert Applied and Leaving Cert Vocational Programme. They want more cultural awareness training for teachers and better disability services.

In mental health children want more, and better staff for CAMHS. They want shorter waiting lists and an understanding that you cannot be ‘too young’ to experience mental health issues. They want more mental health support services in schools and improvements in transgender healthcare.

Speaking about the event, Ailís said:

“I did not know much about rights until I worked on the survey around the rights of children. Hearing from other people my age about what is important in their lives has been interesting. I like hearing the stories.  I like to have the chance to put my ideas in my own words, too”

 The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon said:

“Hearing directly from children and considering their views in the decision making process is essential. Pieces of Us: What’s Next? provides Government and policy makers with a clear insight into children’s priorities.

 “The OCO Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) led this whole process and their hard work and commitment have been key not only to the success of the report, but to the impact that is has had in influencing the concluding observations. We will continue to share the messages from Pieces of Us: What’s Next? and to support the YAP in bringing these message directly to decision makers.”

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