The City of Joy witnessed an unprecedented initiative by young people and adolescents towards making the city friendly to children. Young people from all parts of West Bengal converged on 15 September at Victoria Memorial grounds to kick off a rally, sharing their thoughts on what they want for a healthy life. The rally started from Victoria Memorial grounds and concluded at Mohor Kunja, where the youngsters participated in an impromptu session to share their thoughts.
Child In Need Institute (CINI), a nationally reputed CSO coordinated and led the event as part of its nationwide celebrations to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Present on this occasion were several celebrities and social scientists who witnessed the passionate outpouring of young people sharing their views and thoughts on ways to make the city child friendly. Issues like health, education, protection and nutritional needs came up during the programme. Also present at the event were Dr Samir Chaudhuri, founder secretary, CINI, Mr Meghendra Banerjee, Chief of Programmes, Mr. Marine Mukherjee, Dr Swati Chakraborty, CINI and several NGO representatives. Representatives from the West Bengal Child Protection Cell, State Health Department, WCD and media were also present at the event to hear what the youngsters had to say.
Globally there are about 180 Crore (1800 million) young children between the age group of 10-24 years. To ensure that their voices are heard in the policy making process, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), a global alliance for the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated a global 1.8 billion campaign. CINI is leading the campaign in West Bengal, India. Young people aged 16 to 24years have participated through a special AI based chatbot using whatsapp and adolescent children between 10-15years directly penned down their aspirations and demands for well being. The worldwide assimilated information is available for viewing live via a single click on an online dashboard. The Conclave played a pivotal role in the global “1.8 Billion What Young People Want” campaign, designed to offer a platform for young voices, especially the deprived and marginalized street dwelling youngsters, who find it doubly hard to have their voices heard, a way to express their thoughts and needs.
Mr. Sujoy Roy, National Advocacy Officer at CINI, eloquently stated, “In our journey towards a Child-Friendly City, we’re striving to shape a future where every child’s dream flourishes, voices resonate, and are heard.'” He added, “In this campaign, we have received an overwhelming record number of 0.15 million youth responses from West Bengal. As of now, the primary demands revolve around learning, competence, education, skills, and employability.”
Ishika, one of the enthusiastic youngsters, shared, “Living on the streets, the idea of a good and healthy life often feels distant. No one has ever taken the time to ask us what we want or what we think. This campaign has given us a voice and provided a wonderful platform to connect with young people from around the world. I’m delighted to be a part of this unique campaign”.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, Founder-Secretary of CINI, shared, “I am a paediatrician by profession and CINI has been working ceaselessly towards improving child health and wellness for the past five decades. On our fiftieth year we are extremely happy to lead such an initiative as it emphasizes the primary goal of our organization, to create a friendly and responsive community where children and adolescents achieve their full potential. I hereby thank and congratulate everyone who have extended their support and participation in this effort “.