The Next Generation
Too often the perspective and wisdom of young people is overlooked or ignored. This is usually because children and young people are seen to be lacking the experience necessary for the full comprehension of a situation or subject. Whilst it’s true that young people don’t have the experience of those older than them, one could counter that from observing the actions and behaviour of many adults, especially those in government, it doesn’t appear that they’ve learned very much from their extended life experience.
Psyclone describes ‘…a growing realisation among the younger generation that the prospects for their inheritance were getting darker and smaller left in the hands of narrow-minded, short-sighted, menopausal men… and how ‘…their investigations and actions put them in touch with sincere depths and creative, inspiring visions, which in turn resulted in some creative and inspiring action.’
When Severn Cullis-Suzuki was nine she started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in many projects before 1992, when they raised enough money to go to the UN's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Their aim was to remind the decision-makers of who their actions or inactions would ultimately affect. The goal was reached when twelve-year-old Severn closed a Plenary Session with a powerful speech that received a standing ovation.
Kalandia Children is an inspiring project that has come out of a children’s home in the Kalandia Refugee camp 12km from Jerusalem. The Kalandia Child Center for Culture and Development is a voluntary non-governmental organization that promotes cultural, educational, social and entertainment programs for the youth of the camp. Their objective is to develop the children’s mental, spiritual and physical capacities and help them to use their time in a constructive way, in order to alleviate the psychological pressure that they are facing in a context of oppression and human rights violations.
Check out Kalandia TV, the first reality show (as in real) inside a Palestinian refugee camp. Using donated video cameras, ten children provide footage for a radical new web television production that gives a children’s eye view of life in a land under military occupation. (The centre is currently in need of technical help with translation subtitles for the footage. Please contact the Director.)
On July 30th 2009 another standard was set by the next generation. In the unlikeliest of places to break a world record, the beaches of the military occupied Gaza Strip, thousands of kite-flying Palestinian children flew the largest number of kites simultaneously from the same place. The event was part of the Summer Games programme run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) aimed at fostering a positive summer experience for Gaza's children.
Gaza’s blue skies turned into an array of coloured paper kites, as the sounds of children laughing and paper flapping sent a message to the world and served as reminder to the youth of Gaza that they, too, can be among the world's best despite the odds. Prior to the event the world record for the largest number of kites flown simultaneously from the same place stood at 713. That record was shattered by the 6,000 children that took part in the event.
"There is a glorious symbolism about thousands of children in the world's most locked down community heading to the beach with beautiful kites they have created themselves and showing the world that they are able to have fun like kids anywhere and indeed, be number one in the world," Chris Gunness, the UNRWA spokesperson, said.
"Thousands of kites, soaring skyward with kids gazing upward allowing their thoughts to rise up from the grind they confront on the ground: it is a symbol of the quest for happiness, freedom and human fulfilment," he added.
The Guinness Book of World Records was invited to verify the attempt, but due to a security advisory by the UK government warning against any travel to the Gaza Strip, sent instead clear guidelines in order for the record to be considered.
"The adjudicator who would normally come, was not able to come to Gaza because it is unsafe. But it's ok for children here in Gaza," John Ging, the director of operations for the UN Relief and Works Agency said.
"We need to get a grip with this thing, the fact that the children are having to live in this situation."
Below is an Aljazeera video of the event: