Know your lefts, know your rights: co-designing a children’s rights animation

November 15, 2022 by No Comments | Category Children & young people, Guest blog

The right for children and young people to have their views heard on matters that affect them and for those views to be taken seriously is one of the general principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). To support children to understand their rights, the Scottish Government Children’s Rights Unit decided to create a short animation to explain UNCRC: Introductory Guidance in a child friendly way.

Scoping the animation content

We worked with Carers Trust Scotland and Parent Network Scotland to understand what young people would like to see from the project. The idea they shaped was to show a journey through a community and the types of interactions young people might have with public authorities about their rights.

The young people and parents involved in discussion groups helped to refine the concept of a community and identify specific issues that should be included in the film. The journey through a community showed types of interactions young people might have with public authorities about their rights. Young people and parents identified specific issues to include. The young people wanted to address diversity and inclusion, and avoid stereotypes of young people. In addition, they provided helpful information on the tone and pitch of the film.

Some of their direction was capture in the workshop using sticky notes:

Digital whiteboard with post-it notes capturing the advice of the young people as to the tone, feel and direction of the animation. The content of the post-it notes is summarised above.

Copyright Scottish Government, 2022.

The sticky notes say:

  • music is fine, but needs to be something without words – not classical music, not music you listen to when ‘on hold’
  • young people are mature and they can hold public bodies to account
  • voices used – they can’t sounds ‘adult’ – put in effort to find young people to speak/narrative, this would be more engaging for young people to listen to
  • should include text as this will be easier for some people, but not too wordy
  • closed captions at the bottom/speech bubbles?
  • covid advert with young person and grandparent, opening windows – it was very film like, very impactful
  • informative but not boring
  • don’t dumb down
  • image descriptions included under social media posts – this is for visually impaired users
  • it has to be bright
  • eye catching with a clear message
  • nice colours that go together – colour theory!
  • looks pretty – not primary colours as it feels like primary schools vibes, if feels like homework, you are forced to watch it
  • tone – not too serious, not too judge-y, it’s a very serious topic

Developing the animation

Following the scoping phase, we worked with Renfrewshire Youth and Partners in Advocacy. Eight young people from diverse backgrounds shaped the look, feel and script of the film. This involved two full day workshops with a facilitator and the animation team.

On day one, young people shaped the animation style by sharing what they found engaging and informative, and the music and effects they liked. They also shared examples of rights to highlight and how they would like to see public authorities respond when questions about rights were raised. These examples informed a draft script.

On day two, the young people reviewed the draft script and mood boards developed by the animation team. The colour palate was important to them, they gave clear guidance to avoid primary colours, instead choosing yellows and purples.

Video still of the final animation showing people's arms holding placards aloft - the placards read "know your lefts" and "know your rights"

Copyright Scottish Government, 2022.

They wanted humour and references to social media in the story lines. Look out for the fox and Nessie who appear in the film!

All the young participants had the opportunity to record a section of the script for their chosen character and story. Four young people’s voices are included in the animation and social media clips.

Video still of the final animation showing a cartoon of a young person speaking into a microphone with the subtitle "a number of young people even provided their voice for the film's narration".

Copyright Scottish Government, 2022.

We worked closely with the animators, facilitator, and youth workers to support the participants to express their views, ideas, and creativity. As a result, they decided how the animation should look, the stories we should tell and how the characters should be presented. We thank MPG, our animation partners, for turning the young people’s ideas into reality.

The final product

To show our thanks to the young participants, we arranged a special screening of the animation, complete with popcorn! Here’s what the budding creators and the partner organisations said:

  • “The animators really listened to what we had to say and incorporated our ideas” – young person
  • “The best bit in it was me!” – young person who voiced one of the characters
  • “Looks fantastic! great job” – youth worker
  • “Well done everyone, what a fabulous animation that helps explain children’s rights in action!!” – Partners in Advocacy
  • “Amazed you managed to squeeze in so many of the articles and how to find out more” – Renfrewshire Council

You can view the animation now on You Tube.

We hope that public authorities and children will use the film to stimulate discussion about participation and making children’s rights real. Finally, our thanks go out to all the young people involved in making this film. We hope you enjoy watching the film as much as they enjoyed making it.

Watch this space!

We’ll be publishing a new blog here every day this week so keep an eye on @ScotGovEngage for blog announcements or check back here.

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