To celebrate world children’s month every November, 35 children ages 10-15 participated in a 2-day workshop last November 14-15 at the Grade School Library, Ateneo de Zamboanga Kreutz Campus. 

The local city government of Zamboanga, UNICEF Philippines, City Social Welfare Development Office (CSDWO), and AdZU-SUGPAT partnered to organize “Children Building Child-friendly Cities.” 

The activity was a product of the agreement and partnership between UNICEF and the local city government of Zamboanga in making Zamboanga City a child-friendly city.

Making Zamboanga City a child-friend city

To lead sectoral groups of children, seven children facilitators were trained by SUGPAT to equip them for the 2-day workshop. 

The children of Zamboanga were represented by six sectors: in-school, out-of-school, indigenous people, children with disabilities, Muslim group, and 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) children. 

The children were grouped according to the sector they represented. 

In making Zamboanga City a child-friendly city, the local government has to know the issues and concerns the children are facing in their communities. In identifying issues, the children opened up about the realities in their communities in four thematic areas: education, road safety, child protection, and child participation. 

Bullying, physical and verbal abuse and unsafe roads are among the key issues identified by the children participants.

The identified issues per thematic area were used by the participants to create solutions that are relevant and applicable to their sector. 

On the second day of the workshop, all 35 children participants had the opportunity to be “Child City Mayors” and created plans, policies, and programs that would address their issues and concerns. 

The issues and suggestions were then heard by the Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle “Beng” Climaco-Salazar. 

Among the child mayors’ proposal were to make anti-bullying programs in schools, add classrooms and facilities to schools, put streetlights to far-flung barangays and narrow streets, and to create programs for parents about their responsibilities to their children. 

“The City Government of Zamboanga under our administration commits to ensuring that our city will complete all of the Child-friendly initiatives that are mandated to us. It has always been my dream that the city of Zamboanga would be child-friendly, and we have and we will continue on ensuring that there are rights-based and opportunities for our people to be able to grow and to be able to learn and play in the city of Zamboanga,” Mayor Climaco said. 

The results and findings, as well as the proposed solutions that were generated during the activity, will be exhibited on November 28 at Centro Latino, Paseo del Mar, Zamboanga City, during the State of the Children’s Report of the Zamboanga City Mayor. 

A Child-friendly city is a global initiative that encourages the local governments to put children at the center of their plans, policies, and programs. Read more about the initiative here: Child-Friendly Cities Initiative

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