The presentation by the Commissioner was the opening part of a pilot programme to raise awareness of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child.
In the first of its kind, the partnership between the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) and Ards Borough Council aims to empower the Council and its staff to lead the way in creating a culture where young people’s concerns will be listened to and acted upon in meaningful and creative ways.
Mrs Lewsley-Mooney said ‘I congratulate Ards Borough Council on taking this proactive step to acknowledge and promote the rights of children and young people.
‘By engaging with children and young people in this way, the Council can more effectively deliver council services to their changing needs.
‘The fresh perspectives and new ideas that children and young people can bring to services, policies and processes can help tackle key objectives and promote social inclusion.
‘Services and policies can be designed, delivered and evaluated based on actual rather than presumed needs and this saves money.
‘I hope this pilot will help us to develop a model that can be replicated with other councils throughout Northern Ireland’
Welcoming the Commissioner to the Council, Chairman of the Council Services Committee, Councillor Mervyn Oswald, said:
‘In recent years the Council has been actively seeking to increase engagement with children and young people through our contact with youth forums and by using the expertise of external organisations.
‘The Council is delighted to be working in partnership with NICCY on a programme which will greatly enhance the work we have done to date and also broaden the awareness among councilors and staff of the importance of listening to children and young people when deciding policy and making decisions. I look forward to the roll out of the programme and to strengthening our links with NICCY as we move forward”.
Three further sessions will follow where Councillors and Council staff will learn about implementing children’s rights into policies and practices and ultimately to engage effectively with children and young people to bring about effective service delivery.
Notes for editors