The Burnaby Board of Education endorsed a newly created children’s charter at its November 2019 meeting. Immediately before the unanimous support, Vice-Chair Jen Mezei said:
The quotes in the Charter have a purity and honesty that touch my heart.”
The voices of children are the foundation of the Burnaby Children’s Charter. It was produced by a group of community-based organizations after seeking input from local children. Part of the rationale for creating it is that everyone in our community has a responsibility to support and protect the rights of children, and needs to know what they are in order to actively support them.
The Burnaby Children’s Community Table – of which the District is both a member and co-chair – spent three years on the project, including consultation. The Table is a broad-based group working for children and families.
Before creating the Charter, the Table worked to collect the input of children by:
- asking them what they need to grow up happy and healthy
- seeking input from a variety of ages
- working in partnership with Equitas to create tools that were play and art-based to facilitate all children’s right to be heard
They spoke to approximately 250 children, ranging from the very young to age 12. Some children drew pictures about what was important to them and others did interviews. The responses were analyzed for themes and the Charter flowed from that.
Stefano Bousquet, a Grade 7 student from Sperling Elementary, was one of three children who shared the Charter with the Board. He also participated in providing input into the Charter:
It was interesting. I think it’s a good idea… because every child needs to have rights.”
Burnaby families were also consulted. The goal of the Charter is to:
- protect the rights of children
- amplify the voices of young people
- mobilize action
It also serves as a tool to help the District and community organizations embed the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into their work by enhancing programs, policies and decision-making processes at all levels. Essentially, it helps people think about and protect the rights of children. At the meeting, Chair Gary Wong said:
Adults ought to be listening more to children.”
In order to move the Charter forward, The Burnaby Children’s Community Table asked its stakeholders to endorse the Charter and support its use and implementation throughout the city. The Burnaby Board of Education was one of the first to do so. The City endorsed it at their council meeting on November 18.
Other representatives who are part of the Table are from the City of Burnaby, the Fraser Health Authority, Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services, the Burnaby Public Library, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Equitas International Centre for Human Rights Education, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, and other not-for-profit and community-based organizations.
Posted November 2019