Armagh city hotel was a hive of activity and creativity on the 18th of April with a wonderful “Children’s Court” and creative showcase event organised by BELONG. This was the second and final BELONG Children’s Court led by Koulla Yiasouma, The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, along with children from the BELONG programme aged seven to twelve years old.
The Court structure gave the children an opportunity to express how important their rights, culture and awareness of anti-racial bullying are in ensuring their safety in our diverse communities of N.Ireland. It also gave the invited guests; statutory, community and voluntary service providers, the opportunity to answer questions proposed by the children in issues regarding their area of expertise and in relation to children’s ‘right to be safe’.
BELONG is a family support programme that works with Black and Minority Ethnic children aged seven to twelve years old, and their families, which highlights the importance of Children’s Rights, Cultural Identity and inclusion for all, in increasing an overall sense of BELONGing.
Speaking about the Court, Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People said,
“I was delighted to be invited to the BELONG Children’s Court to see the work carried out by children involved with the organisation. The event was really enjoyable and it was fantastic to hear young people talk so eloquently about their experiences and their rights. The collaborative approach of BELONG NI should be repeated in all communities across NI to help us fully understand how children and young people experience the realisation of their rights. I extend my sincere thanks to the children for inviting me and presenting me with my Arsenal scarf!”
Guests in attendance including representatives of children’s service providers throughout Northern Ireland enjoyed the opportunity to view some of the creative art pieces developed by children across the various BELONG programmes at the court event. Those invited agreed on the important role decision makers and service providers play in the lives of our children and the future of our increasingly diverse communities. Corinne Jordan BELONG Programme Worker continues:
“This event was a perfect opportunity for our work in the BELONG programme to be showcased to the individuals who are shaping the lives of the children of Northern Ireland through their statutory and community work. It was important to give the children a voice and show them that it is OK to demand more and to ask questions about their wellbeing and the court was a perfect vehicle for this”.