The Seventh Regional Consultation of Child Helplines in Asia Pacific: a memorable journey

During the parallel youth event at the Regional Consultation in Malaysia, we embodied the spirit of a 100% youth-led parallel event. Managed and planned by myself and supported through the participation and great ideas of many of my peers, it was an opportunity not to be missed.

A story by Jasminejit 

 

The journey began with the idea to have a youth representative introducing the Free Our Voices campaign and the Youth Advisory Council at the Regional Consultation. In the spirit of youth empowerment and activation, we decided to throw a full parallel youth event, where to brainstorm with the child and youth representatives on how they could contribute to improving the services of child helplines. In order to capture the interest of young people, we made sure the sessions were proactive and activity-driven. We started with a group circle exercise where everyone got to know each other. This was also an opportunity for the facilitator to get a sense of the participants and run the sessions in the most engaging way possible.

In the spirit of youth empowerment, we went for a full-on youth event!

During the opening of the Regional Consultation, I spoke on behalf of the Youth Advisory Council. The topic was my role as a youth participant, supported by various governmental and non-governmental organisations nationally as well as in ASEAN, in particular Childline Malaysia and Child Helpline International. I also introduced the Free Our Voices campaign, and called for the establishment of an Asia Pacific Youth Advisory Council (eventually established in 2016).

In my speech, I applauded Child Helpline International for taking the leap forward and conceiving the idea of the Youth Advisory Council in 2011 already. After numerous discussions, in 2014 a dream team of six was formed to lend our voices and opinions in Child Helpline International’s operations and policies. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to be one of these six members and henceforth to stand before the audience of the Regional Consultation in Malaysia and speak on behalf of all youth.

After the opening speech, the youth event continued. We engaged in interactive sessions such as a version of Mother-Hen and a silent activity called My Circle. Participants were asked to draw a big circle on a piece of paper and add what influences their circle, both positively and negatively. This activity helped put participants in the shoes of children in various circumstances. It promoted a discussion on what issues could affect or be a threat to children. Following this, each group had to select one problem faced by the child and create a sketch focusing on who they could reach out to for help, how they could be helped and possible ways to stop the problem from occurring again.

The sketches were then used as a brainstorming tool on what services the children and young people would like helplines to offer and how they too can contribute to making these a reality.