“If we are to solve children’s problems that we must start by first asking children themselves”  —  Child Protection Committee Member, Sandhya Sahu (age 15)

A child explaining models to Corporator and Community Members

To ensure that the ‘Voices of Children’ reach custodians of their safety and development, CCDT’s Child Protection Committee (CPC) in Shivaji Nagar organized a panel discussion, “Bacho ke Bol” (Voice of Children) during Child Rights Week. Panel members included government representative Mr. Harish Chedda (Corporator, Shivajinagar) and Ms. Tejawini Shinde (Child Protection Officer) answered questions raised by the children on issues ranging from open spaces to play, drugs, children’s safety in their communities and BMC budget provisions for infrastructure (street lights, zebra crossings, toilets, library and a gym) in their community. In addition, children from the age group of 8 to 18 years presented their models of an ‘ideal community, school, family and playground’ during an interactive session with government officials.

Importance of toilets in a community

“I would like to thank CCDT for planning a weeklong celebration for Child Rights. This is a rare opportunity for children to speak up. We’re glad to see that, through the medium of CCDT, children are contributing towards building safe communities. I can easily get an overview of an ideal community through their models, which include all aspects for a healthy environment: trees, dustbins, zebra crossing, schools and playgrounds”.

— Harish Chedda, Corporator and CPC Chairperson from Shivaji Nagar.

Panel discussion

During the panel discussion, when children asked the Corporator about his plan to develop Shivajinagar as a safe community for people to live, he said —

“My aim is to reduce the communication gap between us. Active participation is required and you need to feel free to share problems with me so that we can raise these issues whenever possible and work together for a solution.

On the issue of ‘safety at night’, we have already filed a complaint to Corporation to repair solar lights or put power poles everywhere.

Mr Chedda added later that he is working hard towards his dream of slum re-development, which includes building a safe place for people, providing safe drinking water, better roads, and clean toilets. He promised to “look into issues raised by the children to make their community safe and discuss it with the Corporation at their next meeting”.

Child protection officer Tejaswini Shinde talked to children about how to overcome their fear of dark areas: