Child to Child – “A Tiger by the Tail”
A paper by Susan Durston and Gerison Lansdown, with Celine Woznica and Helen Walker
“People may think that Child to Child is pink and fluffy, but really you’ve got a tiger by the tail.” (Hugh Hawes, one of the founders)
Child to Child is a pioneer of children’s participation, which began in the 1970s as a movement teaching children in primary schools to pass on health messages. The powerful approach towards recognising, developing and amplifying children’s capacities and potential to affect change in their communities as well as the wider world has since touched the lives of countless young people across the globe.
In this paper, trustees Susan Durston and Gerison Lansdown along with consultants Celine Woznica and Helen Walker explore the historic contribution of Child to Child to realising the right of children to participate and take an active role in their development and that of their communities.
From the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, to the present day, the issue of children’s participation has beenexplored far more widely across many international and national NGOs and UN agencies throughout the world. The inclusion in the Convention of Article 12, of the right to express views and be taken seriously, required a profound reconsideration of the status of the child from one of passive recipient of protection to one of agent with potential to influence and inform. However, importantly, the programmatic developments that evolved to give expression to this right were not taking place in a vacuum. Indeed, they were significantly influenced and underpinned by the theoretical and practical groundwork that Child to Child had established.
While it is difficult to quantify the impact of an approach that is often absorbed into the DNA of larger organisations, or adapted and taken up organically by community-based organisations, in 2020 there has been an effort to review the reach of the approach and the organisation. The paper below summarises some of the findings of a “tiger” that has grown, evolved and is as powerful today as it was several decades ago.