Day 1: Through the eyes of Soleil

After months and months of planning we’re finally here. Tags name are piled up on the table, tote bags ready to be handed out, the team is painting the final decorations for the rooms. During five days we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Rights Convention by exploring the theme: Children as Human Rights Defenders. During five days we will share with what is happening in the little village of Pontmain, through the eyes of one of our participant. Today we welcome Soleil, young girl of 16, member of the team, keynote speaker of the opening session.


What was the theme of the day?

The theme of the conference is Children as Human Rights Defender, but today the focus was on getting to know each other, creating a comfortable and safe space to grow and learn together.

I was incredibly nervous but I also was surrounded by people who I felt was routing for me and it was lovely to share my story with people I haven’t met yet but felt was really supporting. In my speech I spoke about the highlights and downfall of being a child advocate along with the struggles one must face when a child is trying to use their feelings and emotions as a vehicle for advocacy. I spoke about how even though children are strong, empowered and motivated; they need adults to support them so they are able to make real political impact and push policies. I highlighted that in the dividing times we are living, communication and confidence between diverse groups of people is of the upmost importance.

Géraldine Bannier, the deputy of the department Mayenne, was also there to show her support. She was excited to see so many diverse people and young people in one room, gathered to find solution and becomes advocates.


What did you do and what was the highlight of the day?

I am part of the organizing team so I helped with our introductory Together Times, registered people into the conference which was fun because I get to practice my French and meet a lot of participants. Then we all went to play games that made us meet each other and get familiar with one another before going for the Together Times. We explained all the bits and pieces of the programme, the child protection and participation policy, we celebrated with a cake, both fake and real, the 30th anniversary of the Children Rights Convention and I made my speech. We also put our wishes for the forum and children’s right on the boat that we are using as our metaphor.

The highlight of my day was the Nest group, because it was a more intimate setting and we got to know each other and meet people we haven’t connected with yet. We had several activities that allowed us to know each other and create a place and delve deeper into the theme of the forum.

children putting post-its on a boat shaped cardboard


Who did you meet?

In my Nest Group there is a large group of indigenous Australian and one pointed out that we were judging one image from a western perspective and gave his own indigenous perspective of that same image. It made me think on how many more solutions we could be coming up with if we listened to each other and to people who think differently from us.


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