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Buenos Aires, Ciudad Amiga de los Niños
“Buenos Aires, Ciudad Amiga de los Niños” (Buenos Aires, Child-Friendly City) is a project established by the municipality of Buenos Aires, Argentina, that aims to improve the city for all its inhabitants through the creation of social spaces that accommodate and favour the needs of children. Basically, it tries to “govern with children” in order to guarantee children the right to be heard and to participate actively in the city’s community life. The fundamental concept is to give a voice to girls and boys so that they can declare their vision and propose solutions to problems occuring at a local, neighbourhood level or at a city-wide level. This project was established in 2001 by the municipality of Buenos Aires and its stakeholders are: Council of Children’s and Youth’s Rights (Consejo de los Derechos de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes), Council of Environmental Urban Planning (Consejo del Plan Urbano Ambiental), Representatives from Departments of Decentralization and Participation Policy, Education and Public Works, Association in favour of Children’s Rights (Asociacion por los Derechos de la Infancia-ADI) and UNICEF Argentina. In 2003, a pilot project was developed that established a group of child-promoters whose main objective was to extend this initiative at the local level. Moreover, the first children’s council was established in the neighbourhood of “La Boca”. Children and adolescents developed four projects and presented them to the local authorities. The issues focused on by these projects were: violence and abuse, nutrition, cleaning up and environmentally defending a small river flowing through La Boca, the Riachuelo, developing a new concept in recreation and entertainment. In 2004 and 2005 two additional children’s councils were opened and more projects were presented to the authorities with the objective of improving the quality of life and services in the concerned neighbourhoods. In 2007, a decision was made to extend the initiative to all neighbourhoods and to establish regional councils. The Council of Barracas created in that year deserves mentioning, as it was the first example of involvement of children younger than 6 years old. In 2008 and 2009, more councils were created to reach the number of 15 active ones.
An inter-governmental and inter-sectorial commission was also established at the beginning of the initiative. The commission’s work involves: defining the programme’s guidelines, monitoring, evaluating, overseeing activities and the locations in which the projects will be carried out; designating representatives for the Management and Participation Centres and local commissions; establishing mechanisms and a participatory plan for the election of children’s councils at local level; promoting activities to publicise the project and all its stakeholders in the city, the schools, and the NGOs.
Ciudad de Rosario. Ciudad de los Niños
The initiative “Ciudad de Rosario. Ciudad de los niños” (Children’s City) was established in June 1996 in the context of municipal decentralization efforts and the creation of Municipal Councils in Rosario. The initiative was initially supported by UNICEF and later by UNDP. The idea of Rosario as a city for children is based on the Francesco Tonucci’s experience “La città dei Bambini” (Children’s City) and conceives the construction and transformation of a city through the eyes of children. The underlying thought is that children know best what they need and that what is suitable for children is suitable for everyone. To ensure children share their knowledge on their needs, the core strategy adopted was the creation of spaces (Children’s Councils also called “Laboratories of Ideas”- “Fábricas de Ideas”) for children to express their opinion and develop proposals on specific matters; these proposals are then presented to the local authorities for their approval and implementation. After an initial pilot phase, between 2004 and 2007, 6 councils were created. Each- one per district- integrates approximately 30 elected children. An intergovernmental commission including members of the different bodies of the municipal government (social affairs, sports, culture and health) is in charge of ensuring implementation and monitoring of the children’s proposals. Through the Councils, children have been a key actor in reshaping the city and its services and have contributed to building a more democratic society. In addition to the Councils, two other key strategies were put in place in Rosario: a) the programme “Crecer” (Growing up) which targets vulnerable families by providing services through different projects in several domains (nutrition, health, psychosocial support to children and their caregivers, early childhood stimulation, family enterprises etc). There are 33 centres running the programme at the moment; and b) the programme “Triptico de la Infancia” (children’s triptych) which consists of three projects aimed at transforming public spaces for children and their families to experience nature, creativity and open-air activities. The city of Rosario has provided technical support to other cities in Argentina, including Buenos Aires, to replicate the initiative.
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