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Children Leading the Way: How The Children's Solutions Lab Gave Young People the Platform to Make Changes

Arigatou International - Ethics Education for Children, together with End Child Poverty launched in September 2020 the Children’s Solutions Lab, an opportunity for children and youth from different backgrounds to come together to discuss, learn, and take action against child poverty through education backed solutions

The project was made available to groups of children supported or backed by various organizations and groups, including the GNRC. The project seeks to empower children to be the agents of change as stated by the Director of End Child Poverty, Rev. Fred Nyabera, "At Arigatou International, we believe in the active participation of children and that is why we want the Children's Solutions Lab to be an opportunity not just to work for them but with them."

Applications to participate in the Children's Solutions Lab were launched at the beginning of September with a live session in English held on 17 September 2020 and another one in Spanish on 23 September 2020. These sessions aimed to introduce prospective organizations and groups to the project and gain a better understanding of what the Children's Solutions Lab seeks to achieve.

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After receiving 37 submissions from 23 countries the list was eventually whittled down to five finalists whose projects stood out from the rest. These were Los niños y niñas de Internet (Cuba), Children's Parliament (India), Expresarte (Peru), Garissa Children's Lab (Kenya), and Santa's Helpers (Serbia). Each of these groups would be recognized for their commitment to driving child-led solutions as well as receiving mentoring and micro-grants from Arigatou International to further support their projects.

In addition to this, these five groups were invited to share their experiences during the Global Week of Faith in Action for Children held by Arigatou International from 16 to 20 November 2020. The online session provided a platform for the children behind these projects to have their voices heard and share their personal experiences with how poverty and COVID-19 were affecting children in their communities. The online session also allowed the leaders of these various projects to impart the lessons they had learned while engaging with children and provided a space for learning and knowledge exchange.

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During the discussion, Benazir, representing Garissa Children's Lab from Kenya, explained that "every time I'm working with these children, when I'm sitting down with them coming up with solutions, identifying the problems, these children don't stop mesmerizing me. Their intelligence is on another level." She noted that this was a change from how her organization normally operated. This was the first instance where children were at the forefront leading and implementing solutions they had come up with themselves.

This sentiment was reiterated by Rev. Nyabera when stated "children are actors competent to make decisions that affect their lives. Because if we think that children are lesser beings they will not get this opportunity. So those that have provided this space believe that children have some inherent worth [and] inherent dignity."

This online discussion marked the culmination of weeks of work and we hope that, with the support of Arigatou International and the local organizations, these child-led initiatives can flourish and bring about solutions to children living in poverty.

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We would like to thank all the children for their participation in the Children's Solutions Lab, we would also like to recognize all the adults, faith leaders, community members and others who have worked to support these children as they work towards implementing their solutions.

The full video for the online session can be found here.