“I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you.”
Severn Cullis-Suzuki, 12 years old, Rio Earth Summit, 1992
“You come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words… all you can talk about is money and eternal fairy tales of economic growth. How dare you.”
Greta Thunberg, 16 years old, UN Climate Action Summit, 2019
These words, 27 years apart, come from children. They are an urgent call to arms, a call for change, a recognition that so much is not working. They are also a demand for adults to recognise young people as competent social agents. Children and youth are integral to everything; as people with valuable insights and contributions that are vital to all our futures, and community members that should be listened to. However, we are still very far from a world where this is the recognised norm.
Over the last couple of years, the Rejuvenate project team have been mapping research that has focused on working with children and young people, or that children and young people have led themselves. The process pulled out positive examples of social transformation that were led by children and young people with support from adult allies, rather than research where children and youth were passive participants.
The result is the Rejuvenate Living Archive, bringing together resources, organisations and projects from a wide range of geographies and time periods. The iterative process of creating the Living Archive created the foundations for a set of proposed field principles to guide participatory work with children and young people.
The principles and the Living Archive are intended as a springboard for further work that substantively recognises the importance of children’s participation in work to further child rights, and to enrich and rejuvenate the societies of which children are a part.
The authors of the report, Vicky Johnson, Director at the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for Remote and Sustainable Communities and IDS researchers Tessa Lewin and Mariah Cannon, issued a call to action to academics, decision makers, advocates, and programme implementers involved in working with children and young people:
“We view this as the start of an inclusive process of contributing to and building up international dialogue about children’s and youth participation and creating regional networks to share learning on concepts, rights, and goals. We invite you to contribute to our project, to critique our work, to improve on it, to help build our living archive, and to test our principles, to rejuvenate.”
Find out more about the process of creating the Living Archive in the project’s recent working paper “Learning from a Living Archive: Rejuvenating Child and Youth Rights and Participation”.
The project team encourage you to get in touch with any examples of organisations, projects or resources which would add to the Living Archive. You can send your submissions via the Rejuvenate website.