September 2022

‘Listen to us’: Children deliver their manifesto for World Leaders and call for safe-space education for all

The choices that adults make today directly affect children’s and youth’s life. Isn’t it only fair that their perspectives, ideas, hopes, fears and aspirations are heard by those making life-shaping decisions on the climate emergency, education, inequality, poverty, conflict and hunger?

The LEGO Foundation

Seeing problems from all perspectives

As a society, we do a great disservice to our future leaders and problem solvers if we do not listen to them now, while they are young. We’re also hindering bold and groundbreaking solutions and innovations, by not seeing the big problems in all their facets.

Children are natural problem solvers with powerful, unlimited imaginations yet opportunities for them to directly share their views and experiences with those in power are far too rare. We need to recognise children as the capable young minds they are and give them a say in decision making on local, national and international levels.

"The younger generations have in many ways a much better understanding of what the future must look like."
Mogens Lykketoft, elected President of the United Nations General Assembly’s 70th session

Young minds unite to create change  

Last week in Billund, the Capital of Children and home of the LEGO brand, 80 children from 42 countries, aged between 10 to 17 years, came together for the Children’s General Assembly 2022.

The three-day event (12-14 September 2022) was the culmination of six months of collaboration, co-creation and playful learning between the children. The programme is designed for the children to find meaning in what they create, learn together on mutual terms, and be actively engaged. Most importantly it respects them as capable and curious young minds.

"We all know where to go to hear adults' discussions of the world's problems. The Children’s General Assembly was created for children to give their point of view in these debates. We are proud to give them the opportunity to meet and co-create solutions"
Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, CEO of Capital of Children

During the event participants enjoyed a packed agenda of talks, workshops, and exercises – all designed with learning through play methodologies in mind to help the children express and develop their ideas. These included a Democratic Lunch where they met local politicians in small groups to discuss life in parliament, how the democratic process works and how children can play a part in local decision making. They also took part in ideation workshops to discuss topics such as how to engage children in refugee camps in decision making and had a discussion with Mogens Lykketoft, elected President of the United Nations General Assembly’s 70th session.  

The highlight of the event was the livestreaming of The Manifesto, expressing the children’s perspectives in world challenges, their ideas and solutions for tackling them.

A passionate call for education for all 

The central focus for this year’s manifesto was a passionate call for a safe, secure education for every child in the world, no matter their abilities, nor where they live and in what circumstances. The manifesto highlights how “schools are more than just schools” and are “the place where democracy is learned in practice.”

It highlights the children’s belief that awareness created through education will help solve the “incomprehensible problems we face as [education] gives us the tools to engage in society, to battle inequality, to counter injustice and to take on the common responsibility of creating change.”  

The children ask world leaders to work across borders to spread best practices that can accelerate change, while also sharing their frustration that this problem has still not been fixed – 200 years after Thomas Jefferson called for education for all, noting that education is instrumental in happiness and freedom.  

The next step: Bringing the manifesto to world leaders

The goal of the programme is to create an opportunity for today’s children to be creative, empowered world citizens and ensure today’s world leaders hear what they have to say. To make this happen, the manifesto and idea catalogue is distributed at the UN General Assembly, with the support of UN Envoy of youth and Ministers from several nations who has been actively engaged in the Children’s General Assembly.  

"(…) children already are creative world citizens, we can learn a lot from the way children work together – they really deserve a seat at the table."
Organisers of the Children's General Assembly

Imagining a world where children’s voices matter

The Children’s General Assembly gives children a platform to come together, exchange ideas, learn from each other and work towards receiving more influence on important decisions.

The event, run by Capital of Children (CoC) Playful Minds with the support of a grant from the LEGO Foundation, embodies how we create places that offer the best conditions for children and support them in developing key world citizenship competencies, including becoming great collaborators, communicators, problem solvers and creative thinkers.

At the LEGO Foundation, we believe all young people should have an opportunity to participate fully in our global society. This won’t happen without adults being supportive and taking action, including ensuring every child receives an education that will help them fulfil their potential. Children may inherit the future, but we can help give them a say today.

"If you let us, we are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but also of today."
Participant of the Children's General Assembly