Are kids in Tamworth happy and healthy? Be the first to find out what they told the Children's Commissioner
3 April 2008
Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner, has been working with children and young people up and down the country, including those at the Sure Start Children's Centre at Glascote Heath, to find out what makes them happy, what support they need to make healthy choices, and how adults can best help them during the often challenging transition to primary school.
A UNICEF report last year rated the UK bottom for children's happiness and Sir Al wanted to further explore these issues with children and young people. Family, friends, being outside in big open spaces, exploring, using their imagination in unstructured play, were all important in the lives of the youngsters in Tamworth.
Through participation activities, they told Sir Al what they liked and disliked in their lives and the changes they would like to see. During a visit to a primary school, the children identified what support they would need to feel comfortable at 'big school', including a safe place to play and having familiar homely items around them.
The children from Tamworth, Sir Al and staff from 11MILLION, the organisation he leads, will host the exhibition and celebration event, which also marks the end of the year-long project. They will be joined by Gill Stanford, Children's Commissioner for Staffordshire and Brian Jenkins, MP for Tamworth.
Speaking ahead of the exhibition event, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner, said "I have learnt a great deal from the babies, toddlers and young children in Tamworth. In particular, how adults can help them make healthy food choices as they grow up and how we can support their move into primary school. We worked with very young children in Tamworth and this exhibition clearly demonstrates the many ways in which we can listen to, celebrate and act on the views of the youngest citizens in our society. It is extremely important to ensure that all children have a say in matters that affect their lives and I will now take forward what they have told me to influence local and national policy."
11 MILLION worked with Barnardo's community development worker Liz Rouse at the Sure Start Children's Centre to gather the youngster's views. According to Liz local families were keen to get involved from the start.
She said: "It's been a really good experience all round for the children, parents and the staff. It seems so obvious to ask children what makes them happy and develop support around that but we're not great at doing it. We make a lot of assumptions as adults about what children need and want. Involving them in decisions about their environment and things that affect their lives, even small things like what colour we paint the railings outside, encourages them to be more engaged in the community and have more confidence to put their ideas forward."
"Parents have said just getting involved with the research has already had a positive impact on them. They've noticed communication between themselves and their child has improved. They're listening more and getting the children more involved in planning activities or day to day things in the home, which makes the children happier."
The views and opinions gathered from all the children involved in 11 MILLION's project will be part of a major report published in July by the Children's Commissioner for England. The report will be used to influence national and local policy to improve the lives of children and young people across the country. ENDS