Maltese girl chosen among 11 children across Europe to lobby MEPs to move from ideas to action
A 12-year-old Maltese girl is one of 11 children chosen from all across Europe to take part in a Euro child symposium intended to create direct engagement with MEPs on decisions that affect their lives.
Sharon Cilia, a member of the Child Council within the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, will be flying to Brussels on Tuesday to attend the three-day symposium on child participation called ‘With Children, For Children: From Ideas to Action’.
“This opportunity means everything to me. I couldn’t believe the news when the foundation told me I was chosen. This is a chance for me to learn and to transfer my knowledge; it’s something small, but I hope to make a difference,” she said.
Sharon, together with 10 other young people, will have bilateral meetings with MEPs to discuss concrete ways to take forward the commitments involved in signing the 2014 Child Rights Manifesto “to realise the rights of every child, everywhere.”
Additionally, during the symposium at the European Parliament, Euro child’s objective is to develop an internal Child Participation Strategy to embed children’s participation within its working structures.
As part of the selection process, Sharon had to submit her motivation on why she wanted to take part, and her core message was her abhorrence of injustice and her determination to do her part, no matter how small, to help end them.
“Most heroes are heroes because they’ve been through the injustice themselves. A word can mean the difference between life and death. An action can mean the difference between lives and deaths.
“We talk about heroes in books and wish they would be here in this world but if we open our eyes and look at the world around us, we’ll realise there are more heroes than we think and they live in the hearts of each and every person who wants to make a difference; has the courage to change; or who has the courage to admit they need change.”
The young student, who attends Maria Regina College Naxxar Middle School, says her heroes are her parents Michelle and Michael, who always encouraged her to “aim for the moon so that if I miss, I’ll hit a star.”
Some of the injustices that have touched Sharon the most are the stories of prejudice and bullying she has heard from other children from gay families, as well as the lack of freedom and choice that foster children face.
European Institutions have long been reflecting on the challenge of democratic deficit, while ignoring the potential of children and young people’s ideas, opinions and solutions. The symposium, organised ahead of Children’s Day on 20 November is part of Euro child’s determination to push the European Parliament to become a beacon for child participation for other EU institutions to follow.