For children's fundamental participation rights to be realised, it is adults, not children, who most urgently need to learn. Children's participation rights demand that adults listen to children, understand them and take action based on what children say. Adults often need to encourage children to participate and provide opportunities for them to do it. Thus, children’s rights to participate is, for now at least, heavily dependent upon adults.
More and more organisations working in the field of children’s rights see the need to train their staff in how to facilitate children's participation. Although they recognise that children have the right to be involved in informing, designing, implementing and evaluating programmes that can directly influence their lives, these organisations have found that providing meaningful opportunities for children to do it is a good deal more challenging than perhaps they expected. One important and often overlooked fact is that, for an organisation to involve children properly, everyone from programme managers to finance and personnel officers down to staff in day-to-day contact with children needs to have at least an understanding of the key practical and ethical concerns in facilitating the participation of children.
Adults First! describes a typical organisational training on children's participation run by Save the Children Sweden for a small Cambodian NGO, the Child Rights Foundation. In it, the workshop’s facilitator and Save the Children Sweden’s children's participation adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific, describes and explains the training activities used in the workshop, and outlines several more.Adults First! is aimed at staff and managers of child-focused organisations hoping to improve their work with children. People thinking of facilitating such trainings should also find it a rich source of ideas and exercises to use with adults and young people.
Beers, Henk van and Caspar Trimmer: Adults First! An organisational training for adults on children's participation. Child Rights Foundation Cambodia, 2004 and Save the Children Sweden, SEAP region, Bangkok, 2006. ISBN 974-94170-9-7