Mal­tese girl cho­sen among 11 chil­dren across Europe to lobby MEPs to move from ideas to ac­tion

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

Sharon Cilia

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