Sarah Halliwell and her Mum Sandra Mills with one of the children from the Children’s Parliament.
Fife College was delighted to host an exciting creative and moving engagement exhibition organised by the Children’s Parliament recently to highlight the rights of children.
The College welcomed children from the Seen + Heard In Fife, a group of 12 children aged 11-13 who put on the exhibition using creative approaches to explore messages that they want to share with adults who can make a difference for children with care experience.
The children, who all have different experiences of care, looked at the positive and challenging experiences they have had within the care system and what they need, to be healthy, happy and safe within care. The result was an explosion of creativity in the form of a large Viking long boat with children’s rights messages painted on its shields and aspirational self-sculptures made of papier mâché reflecting how the children see themselves in 20 years’ time.
Colourful lanterns were also hung from the ceiling from which the children added their own written messages and feelings, while a secret dark tent displayed the children’s inner most feelings on its inside walls using ultra violet ink.
Invited guests included staff from Fife College, officials from across Fife Council, NHS Fife, representatives from the Care Review and third sector colleagues - all of whom can make a difference to children in their day to day work. They were invited along for 1½ hour sessions where the children shared their artwork and talked about their experiences and views through song, poetry and tours of the event. Visitors moved through each section of the exhibition, gaining a first-hand insight into the children’s lives which was both moving and inspiring.
Fife College was delighted to assist the group over recent months and on the run up to the exhibition by providing the space for them to meet, alongside art and drama support from College lecturers.
Sarah Halliwell, Curriculum Manager for Performing Arts, said: “What a fantastic event! The children have done an amazing job and on the day were so confident showing people around the exhibition and talking about their work. The College is a Corporate Parent and was therefore delighted to assist the group and to hold the event at our Dunfermline Campus. What made it even more special for me was that my Mum also attended – she has experience of being in care many years ago which has shaped her life.”
Sarah’s Mum Sandra Mills, 74 from Dunfermline, was delighted with what she saw at the exhibition and was glad to see that things have changed dramatically since she was a child – in her day it was very much frowned upon to mention you had been in care.
Said Sandra: “I came from a theatrical family and the profession came first. This meant that sometimes myself and my brothers were left in care as my parents went to the other side of the country or abroad to find work. It happened at least three times and I remember initially being scared and struggling to deal with new people and a new school.
“The experience has made me the person I am today – I learned to cope by being outgoing and confident and I wanted to get an education. I went on to be a dancer in the West End, set up Youth Theatre groups in Fife and also completed an OU Degree. Being able to talk about how you feel is so important and I am glad that, for care experienced children today, opportunities exist through groups like this to express themselves so that they can maximise their potential.”
Cathy McCulloch, Director of the Children’s Parliament was delighted with the event and said: “This is just the second year that this group of children have been part of the Children’s Parliament and I am so proud of what they have achieved. We are committed to getting our message over - that children are seen, heard and believed with children’s rights at the heart of what we do. The event has allowed us, not only to highlight the children’s experiences through their creations but also to engage and meet with key stakeholders. It was great to also meet Sandra and to compare how, through projects such as ours, children in 2019 can influence positive change in their lives at home, in school and in the community.”
Established 23 years ago, Children’s Parliament is an independent charity and is Scotland’s centre of excellence for children’s participation and engagement. Through their rights-based, creative practice, they provide younger children from diverse backgrounds across Scotland with opportunities to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings. The Children’s Parliament works for a world where all children grow up in an environment of love, dignity and respect.
For further details visit www.childrensparliament.org.uk