Introduce a discussion about participation. Participation in things that directly affect our lives is a right of all, including children and young people, and is included in the ‘Rights of the Child’ that the UN decided on and most countries agreed to.
Ask what the Pioneers understand by the words ‘participation’ and ‘democracy’. To ‘participate’ means: ‘to take part in something’. A ‘democracy’ is where the government representatives are voted for by the people and is a system that supports the principle of equal rights for all. Can they see the link? In a democracy everyone should have the right to participate in the running of the country, by choosing their political leaders.
Talk about how your Woodcraft Folk group operates. Ask the group:
- Are decisions made democratically?
- Does everyone have a chance to take part in activities?
- Does everyone get a chance to voice their opinion?
Think about ways that you could make the group more participatory (so more people take part and so each person takes part more) and more democratic (so everyone has an equal chance to take part). It’s important that everyone knows that people are free to comment and be listened to if they have suggestions or comments on things that can be improved. Create a group agreement you can all observe to make sure everyone can participate.
Here are some suggestions:
- Agree to make sure everyone understands the purpose of their involvement in each activity.
- Agree to consider everyone’s views, even when they might conflict with those of adults.
- Make sure that the participation offered is appropriate to the age group.
- Aim to include those who are less confident or perhaps are often excluded for a particular reason.
- Usually the more planning that takes place, the more people have a chance to participate.
- You may need extra resources – for example ‘a copy for everyone’ of some important information.
- Choose to do some simple activities that need everyone to take part – e.g. a survey where everyone’s information is important to the outcome.
- Remember that the more children and young people are involved in a process from the beginning, the more they feel it is ‘theirs’ and will want to participate.
- Keep it concrete: have a vote on decisions, and collectively decide on activities you want to do and how people can be involved.