Shaking the Movers- a safe space for youth to have a voice.

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I was so honored to participate (as art facilitator) in the 9th instalment of Shaking the Movers yesterday!   Shaking the Movers, founded by The Honorable Landon Pearson, is a profound process that supports youth in making powerful recommendations around children’s rights using their own voices.

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Shaking the Movers:
The Shaking the Movers conferences are two-day workshops that allow children and youth to prepare comments and recommendations for governments and civil society with respect to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  Shaking the Movers provide a unique opportunity for child and youth to exercise their right to take part in important civil and political processes with the assurance that their voices will be heard and listened to. 

Shaking the Movers: A Model for Collaborative Consultation with Children and Youth on Public Policy documents the work and can be adapted for any situation in which collaborative consultation with young people is vital for the elaboration of effective public policy (pdf report).

The various articles of the CRC covered in past Shaking the Movers events include: 
I. Speaking Truth to Power: Civil and Political Rights of Children (2007) on Articles 12 “Right to Participation”, Art. 44 “A State’s Obligation to Report Back to the United Nations”, Art. 24 “The Right to Health” and Article 19 “Protection from Violence and Abuse” (pdf report); 
II. Identity and Belonging (2008), Articles 29.1.C and 30 (pdf report); 
III. Child Rights in Education (2009), Articles 28, 29 and 42 (pdf report);
IV. Children and the Media (2010), Articles 13, 16, 17, 34, 36 (pdf report);
V.  Youth Justice (2011), Articles 37 and 40 (pdf report);
VI. Mental Health (2012), Articles 23 and 24 (pdf report). 
VII. Right to Play and Artistic Expression, Article 31 (pdf report)
VIII. Child Exploitation, Article 34 and 36 (pdf report)

The Landon Pearson Centre designed these events to provide a space for children and young people to “have the floor”, to present their unique perspectives and experiences, and to provide specific recommendations and input related to four themes identified for the conference. While there are adults who do attend the workshop, they are there simply to listen and hear the recommendations made, to be a resource, to provide support to youth participants, and to ensure that the workshop took place in a safe and comfortable setting.  The outcomes, priorities and ideas presented by young people at the workshop are written up into summary reports by theme. Senator Pearson has made it her primary objective to ensure that the reports reach the hands of the “movers” in Canada, and that they respond. All reports and responses are public documents.

This was the first Shaking the Movers outside of Ontario.  I was initially approached by Brenda Morrison from the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University.  Brenda gathered a group of facilitators mainly comprised of SFU students.

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Brenda Morrison, Simon Fraser University (far left) with the Honorable Landon Pearson (far right) and the Shaking the Movers facilitators (left to right): Precious, Phil, Christina, Kat, Virginia, Joel, Suza and Leanne Atkinson (beside Landon) the youth outreach worker and host at Guildford Youth Resource Centre, Surrey BC.  Not shown but integral to the process: Ruth Morrison and the Equitas International Centre for Human Rights Education team.

The facilitators and youth outreach workers then identified youth ages 14-22 to participate in two 2-day sessions (June and September) to dialogue and create recommendations around the theme of Sexual Exploitation.

September session participants
September 21-22, 2015 session participants

My role was to help the youth create art to enhance their work.

                        

The recommendations and the art were then presented to stakeholders as a celebration/presentation:

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A particular gem: Make us RIGHT smart

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The youth so obviously had an amazing experience.

Everyone had a spark in their eye, a smile on their face and warmth in their heart.  A truly inspiring experience for all involved. – Brenda Morrison

They exuded enthusiasm, inspiration, connection and love.  INCREDIBLE.  The central piece that came out of this session was the need to educate youth and children on their rights in a profound and meaningful way.

Next steps?

  1. The results will be published on November 19, 2015 in the Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights.
  2. The youth who participated will create a youth leadership skills program at the Guilford Youth Resource Centre and hope to train to facilitate their peers and to expand their work.

It was deeply moving to hear how much the youth were impacted by the program.  – Laura Mack, stakeholder

I brought along a sock monkey as a talking piece.  It was a hit (not surprising as those sock monkeys truly are peacemakers) and it was presented to the Honorable Landon Pearson by one of the participants as a thank you.

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Two heroes: Leanne Atkinson, youth outreach worker with Pacific Community Resources, who ensured youth participation, and the Honorable Landon Pearson, founder of Shaking the Movers.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:

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