Competition encourages youth to learn their rights

Young people in Merton are being encouraged to dust off their art supplies, put their creative caps on and get designing for the European Commission’s “the right of the child to protection” poster competition.

The competition is open to children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18 and aims to raise awareness among young people of their rights to protection.

The competition offers young people the chance to work together in teams and explore the theme of their own protection in the European Union and acquaint themselves with their rights so they’re in a better position to invoke them when necessary.

Launching the competition in Brussels, Jacques Barrot Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for justice, freedom and security says: ‘Guaranteeing children’s rights and raising awareness of these rights, in particular the right to protection enjoyed by all children and adolescents who are citizens or residents of the EU, are objectives shared by the EU and its member states.’

‘Being entitled to say ‘I have the right to protection!’ and to actually be heard means, for young people, asserting a fundamental European value. This is why, as part of this competition, I am encouraging young people to work together in teams on the theme of their right to protection so that they are more aware of this right and are better equipped to invoke it’.

Dave Hill, chair of Merton’s local safeguarding children board says: “It’s important that as adults we proactively look at ways to encourage children to learn about and examine their rights as citizens. This competition is a real opportunity for young people to do exactly that but also in a creative and social way.

“I’d encourage all young people in Merton who are interested in learning more about their rights to protection and maybe winning a trip to Brussels with their friends to meet the Vice President of the EU Commission to get a group of friends together and give it a go!”

The competition closes on 31 October 2008, participants will be divided into two age categories (10-14 and 15-18) and must work in groups of at least four.

The entries will be judged first at national level, and prizes will be awarded to the three best teams in each age category at ceremonies to be held in each country on 20 November, International Children’s Rights Day.

The winners of the first prize in the national competition will compete in a second round at European level. The three top teams in each age group will be invited to visit Brussels from 6 to 8 December for a tour of the city and the European institutions and to attend a European award ceremony hosted by Vice-President Barrot.

The best posters will be displayed on the websites of the Commission’s representations in the Member States and on the Europa server. They may also be used in future European campaigns on the rights of children, including the right to protection.