Young Scot’s co-created UNCRC social media campaign
“I had the pleasure of talking about my rights and clearing any misconceptions or queries with specialists provided by the Scottish Government. I was able to learn about great resources that help me understand my rights and to ask for support when needed. Such as the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.” – Young Person at Young Scot
Shelly Coyne led the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) awareness raising project with Young Scot. In this blog Shelly reflects on being inspired by the young people she worked with co-designing an awareness raising social media campaign. She also shares how her perspective on children’s rights have changed and her feelings about participation, done well.
How did the UNCRC awareness raising project with Young Scot come about?
I work in the Children’s Rights Unit. My policy responsibility is awareness raising of the UNCRC with children and young people as well as parents carers and families. World Children’s Day (20th November 2022) created the ideal opportunity to work with one of our key stakeholders to run a week of social media content. This is being lead and designed by and for young people. It aims to inform them about their rights. Young Scot is already very practiced and committed to embedding many of the UNCRC articles in their services. They also support young people to understand, claim and exercise their rights. YoungScot have a wealth of experience in leading quality meaningful participation with young people, which was an essential requirement for this work from the start.
How did it all get started?
Paul Gorman, from the Children’s Rights Unit, and I met with a group of young people from the Young Scot Innovators group. We offered an introductory session to UNCRC and listen to their reflections and feedback. Then we invited them to use their experience and knowledge to design a week of social media content for other young people.
Were the young people keen to get involved?
What I think Young Scot are really experienced at is creating positive safe environments. They ensure young people feel secure, and that they will be respected and listened to when meeting new adults and empowered to have their voice heard. Right from that first session the young people came across as confident and the experts in the room. They connected well with the content of the session, asked insightful and meaning questions and related it very quickly to their own lives and experiences.
They were clear they wanted to be involved and quickly agreed on a direction for the campaign. They wanted to explore how young people in other countries have used their rights to make change. They also wanted to make films with rights professionals and experts in the UK and present them with scenarios from their own lived experience. They wanted to ask whether their rights are being respected and for advice on what they should do if their rights are not being respected.
Can you give us an example of one of their scenarios and the people they are speaking to?
Yes, there were 6 different scenarios in total. One of these was:
“I want to know if the lack of public transport in my rural area, which has impacted my ability to access opportunities to socialise, get mental health support and access education, is an example of my rights not being respected.”
The professionals and experts who agreed to meet the young people were from Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland(CYPCS), Education Scotland, Edinburgh University (Prof. Kay Tisdall), Belfast University (Prof. Laura Lundy) and Scottish Youth Parliament.
The feedback from the young people was that they gained much from their 1 to 1 meetings and exploring their personal scenario with an expert.
“I really enjoyed meeting members of the government and speaking about these issues. I am passionate about this and got involved to help try make sure no more disabled or LGBTQIA+ kids go through what I went through” – Young Person at Young Scot
What were your reflections on this project Shelly?
I found the young people to be inspiring. I keep thinking that if they are indicative of young people across Scotland, then there is a power of knowledge and energy behind the UNCRC vision, that we become the best country in the world in which to grow up. They were passionate about rights and certainly would not have accepted any youth-washing in response to their questions or the final campaign. They also made me realise we have an interesting time ahead in Scotland around rights. If we want to see change, then we are going to have to genuinely listen to young people. Some of whom are understandably quite frustrated, reporting that they do not always feel respected or listened to and want to see a real culture shift in Scotland.
The other main take away from this project for me is a reminder of what I heard a young activist from London say recently. That young people know when they have been involved in meaningful participation because it feels right. To enable this to happen we must create safe spaces for honest and challenging conversations, where difficult questions are asked, and sometimes the adults are made to feel uncomfortable. I hope this project offers an example of how the Scottish Government, in partnership with Young Scot, is going some way to achieving this.
The campaign is running from 14 – 21st Nov, on: