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Citizen participation

section 11

community topics

71 meeting

Let’s review:

Once the meeting starts, welcome everyone and ask the participants: • Who can help us remember what we talked about in our last meeting? • Who was able to do the activity at home that we asked you to do at the end of the meeting? How did it go? • Does anyone have questions or concerns after doing the activity?

What are we going to learn? We are going to learn how to promote citizen participation in children from the time they are very young.

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! We are going to look at some pictures, so we can talk about what we all know about this topic.

What type of activities for citizen participation are available in your community? What are some activities that you can do with children to promote better citizen participation?

Why do you think it is important to promote the idea of citizen participation among young children?

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Activity:

“Citizen of the future” We will take a field trip to a place in the community where we can participate in an activity that will make the community better.

What we’ll need? • Tools for a reforestation or a community cleaning project

WHAT WE’LL DO: At the last meeting ask the participants to invite their children for a special outing at the next meeting. • Tell participants they are going to organize a type of activity that reinforces citizen participation, like reforestation of a green zone, a clean up or decoration of the main central park. • Explain to participants and their children that they are going to help the community by fixing up one of its important places. • Walk with the group toward the place in the community where you have set up the activity. When you get there give whatever instructions are needed and organize the group so that everyone can participate. • At the end of the activity gather the group together and comment on how the activity felt. Have them think of a few actions that they can do as good citizens to help their community or country.

Summing Up:

What did we learn today? Now, we’ll review what we discussed today. • How do you feel after this meeting? Why? • What are the two most important things you’ve learned today? • What will you do differently based on what you learned during the meeting? • What did you like the most? Are there things you didn’t like? • Do you have any remaining concerns or questions about what we talked about? To finish, what would you recommend to improve today’s meeting when we do it again with another group. (Explain that answering this question will help the meeting be even better in the future for parents with small children.)

To do at home:

• Encourage each family to decide on an activity they can do together to help the community.

Facilitator’s Manual


79

Basic information for the facilitator: Learning more about promoting citizen participation: 1- What does it mean to be a citizen?

• Citizenship means being a member of and supporting one’s community and country. A citizen has certain freedoms and responsibilities in any society. • In addition to these privileges and expectations, a citizen has an obligation to be informed, law abiding, and uphold basic principles such as tolerance and civic responsibility. Voting, conserving natural resources, and taking care of oneself are all part of citizenship. Citizens also participate in local community projects dedicated to the common good.

2- Children and Citizenship:

• Children need to learn the rights and responsibilities of good citizenship from a very early age. Parents and other community members can do many things with young children to model and teach good citizenship. • Children learn more when they are included in activities that demonstrate and teach good civic behavior. When children are actively involved in storytelling, drama, practical exercises (chores, simulations, etc.) and other activities they learn and remember more of the lesson being taught. • There are many different ways parents and adult role models can help teach citizen participation to small children. Here are some ideas: • Take children with them when they vote. • Involve children in family discussions and decision making. • Read the newspaper to children and discuss issues with them – especially those that affect children. • Participate in community service activities together – pick up garbage, plant trees and flowers, march in local patriotic celebrations, and perform acts of kindness together for needy families and children in the community. • Ask children kindergarten-age and up to tell stories about when they were good citizens-times they were friendly to other children who were different, (from another town, another country, etc.), when they helped clean up a public place, when they saw people voting, when they listened to another child tell a story, or when they provided assistance to someone who needed help.

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80 • A dopt ceremonies, festivals, and rituals (marches, parades, music and dances) to inspire citizenship in young children. Many adults report that saying pledges or poems and singing patriotic songs as children were meaningful traditions that helped them feel part of their community and country. • In addition to classroom lessons, pre-schools and kindergartens can invite children to read school-wide messages that encourage citizenship and stimulate discussion. If children learn to love and appreciate their country through thoughtful activities, they will be more likely to become responsible, active citizens in their community, nation and the world.

Facilitator’s Manual


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