The World As It Is
Children are often seen as needing to be taught and having little to offer the public discourse. Even when children are identified as having something to contribute, they frequently are not protected and come in harm’s way. For example, child survivors of war are often asked to address audiences and are re-traumatized in the process. “Our Global Neighborhood,” the 1995 report issued by the Commission on Global Governance, emphasized that “the world needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics and revealed by political courage that looks to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust.”
The Change We Want To Make
We use art, technology and education to create a forum for the voices of children over 7 years old. We believe it is vital that generations learn from one another. Today’s children are global citizens in their innocence, generosity, sense of awe and wonder and in their curiosity, creativity and cooperative nature. They have much to teach us and need to be empowered to speak and be heard without being manipulated or controlled by adults.
In 1992, our experience with children at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was life-changing for us. Later that year at the United Nations we offered Celebration of the Children of the World: a Model for Building Global Community, an event that invited children’s groups to present their thoughts about how to make peace. We are still inspired by the performances they designed and by what they had to say. Building on our 1992 effort, we presented our work at the conference and published in the proceedings. (Swain, Virginia. “The Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation.” In Mattai, P. Rudy et al., Re-Imagining the Urban Environment: Strengthening Collaborative Relationship in Inner Cities. Buffalo, NY: SUNY at Buffalo, 1997.)
A street child in Rio de Janeiro gave us such love that we have been both encouraged and inspired to offer a new way to address the international need espoused by the Commission on Global Governance’s report that asked us to look “to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust“ We see that children’s voices are a vital part of a dialogue with adults that is necessary to address local and global challenges. It is our vision to be a listening ear. Children need to have the confidence to speak their truth. It is also our vision to empower children, using art, dialogue and education to express their ideas, to think about the challenges they face and how they would address them.