Cardiff University Students Generate Solutions to Creating the UK’s First UNICEF ‘Child Friendly City’

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CFC Social Change Programme

Cardiff University have once again demonstrated their commitment to a Child Friendly Cardiff by curating an intense 6 session social change programme, with students from across the faculties.

In partnership with Child Friendly Cardiff the university enterprise team put out a call to action for students to immerse themselves in a child rights approach to tackling the 5 goals set out in the Child Friendly Cardiff Strategy.

Students were given a briefing on Children’s Rights in Practice from UNICEF UK programme officer, Jeni Bainbridge. It provided the foundation for generating tangible solutions to 1 or more of the CFC goals.

Over the next 5 sessions students learned about creativity and problem solving; pitching; stakeholders; sustainable business models; and heard from industry leaders on how they’re changing the narrative on business and entrepreneurship.

Final pitches from 6 groups were presented to panel of judges including UNICEF UK, Prof Chris Taylor of Cardiff University, and members of the Child Friendly Cardiff Youth Advisory Board.

With just 1 week to organise and generate solutions, the groups came up with some excellent initiatives and ideas to address the Child Friendly goals. The winning solution, created by Flo, [other team here] was titled ‘Letters for Better’. A simple yet potentially powerful tool for children and young people to express how they are feeling. Written down feelings, posted into a letterbox and moderated by adult stakeholders including teachers, volunteers, and parents. The pitch hit high scores on much of the judging criteria, including clarity, alignment with the brief, application of child principles, and sustainability.

Paula Burns, Cardiff University Enterprise Team and co-host of the programme had this to say:

The Child Friendly Cardiff programme provided Cardiff University students with the opportunity to learn about what was being done for future generations and also have an input in the creation of future ideas that would improve Children’s rights. It was felt that it was a topic that they could identify with, as well as allow them to develop entrepreneurial skills.

17 students followed through to the end of the programme working in their teams to create a solution to improve children’s rights. There was a high level of engagement throughout, and the standard was extremely high on all of the solutions presented.

The general feeling from the students was that they had been given the opportunity to understand how much importance was being put on developing a safe experience and environment for children and young people. Also, they were hugely inspired by the business owners who presented throughout the programme. 

The 6 solutions are outlined below:

Team 1:

We propose a “ Cycling to School” scheme similar to the current NEXT/OVO BIKE in the city but based solely around the use for children and teaching children how to ride a bike on the way to and from school. The stations would be based round most local primary schools and parks. They can be unlocked through codes given out through schools if no access to mobile phones or through an app similar to next bike which parents can access.

Team 2:

– Work alongside schools to create workshops with parents to teach them how they can support their child. ​

– Make parents more aware of this problem (give them the statistics, explain to them the most common disorders) e.g symptoms: changes in sleep, new onset of guilt, changes in energy level, changes in concentration or task completion, changes in appetite, changes in motivation, thoughts of suicide. ​

– Support you child’s wellbeing (cook good meals, make sure they exercise)​

– How to talk about their feelings 

Team 3:

Allocating a room within schools for a ‘safe haven’

  • We chose this idea as all three of our schools seemed to lack a safe space to talk about our feelings, de-stress and to enjoy if students had a lot on their plates.
  • Yet, although schools have staff instated to help students pastorally, there is a lack of comfortable environments to talk about their feelings.
  • This room can be catered towards the children, whereby they help to create the environment they wish to have to help their mental health.

Team 4:

  • Workshops held in schools will:
  • Educate children of their UNCRC rights
  • Using real life scenarios to delve into how UNCRC rights translate into everyday lives.
  • Opportunity to discuss topics important to them,
  • Anonymous contributions of topics to ensure minorities and vulnerable among them are not missed.

Team 5:

Our solution is “Children Friendly and welcoming spaces app”

It an Map of Cardiff which signposts to Child and young people to “welcoming”  business and facilities.

The idea is to build an Child Friendly map of Cardiff which will be accessed through an app. It will build a picture of Cardiff signposting Children and Young people to safe spaces and services for them.

Businesses and Services will sign up to be a point on the the community app. Offering charging points, Child Friendly offers ,and a safe place for children to be picked up from if needed.

Team 6:

“Letters for better” is a scheme to encourage young people and children to communicate their feelings and emotions without having to talk. We wanted to address the goal surrounding children’s mental health. Many people struggle to outwardly discuss their inner thoughts and troubles which is often because they do not feel they have anyone to talk to or perhaps because it seems embarassing or scary. For many children, being unable to express emotions can be damaging as this inability can lead to acting out or feeling alone. We wanted to make a scheme which could act as a place for children to send in their feelings through the form of a letter, drawing or colouring, in order to feel seen and heard in the world.