Essay Competition for Children
How do Ukrainian children experience events that have plagued their country in the past year? How do they process all the strong impressions they have to deal with through media, family, friends and personal experiences? How do they envision the future? These are some of the questions we hope to get many different answers to in an essay competition for Ukrainian children and adolescents, which Maidan Norway organize in collaboration with the International Institute of Education, Culture and Relations with Diaspora at the Polytechnic University in the city of Lviv.
States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
Ukraine is currently in the country’s deepest crisis as an independent state. The peaceful demonstrations that erupted in late November 2013, evolved over the next few months into a bloody uprising, and then into an armed conflict between Ukrainian army forces, separatists and Russian troops in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian children and youth have not been unaffected by these disturbances; students were the first to take to the streets in November 2013, and it was not unusual to see families with children among peaceful protesters before the violence escalated. Children and young people are also directly affected, as a consequence of the annexation of the Crimea, and of the heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine. Many children have become refugees and many have experienced war first hand. Furthermore, children are exposed to images of violence and death through media reports, and many have themselves experienced that family members, friends or acquaintances have been killed or injured as a result of the unrest. Many children experience a real fear that people closest to them can be sent to war.
According to a rapid psychological assessment of 204 children conducted by UNICEF in the Donetsk region in May 2014, nearrly every second child experienced fear, anger, sadness or had sleep problems. There are, as far as we know, no extensive, nationwide study of children’s experiences of the turmoil in Ukraine. This project will therefore have an important role in documenting children’s perspective on the situation that has troubled their country the past year.
The project is funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kyiv and will be implemented all over Ukraine until the summer of 2015. The overall goal of the project is to provide Ukrainian children an opportunity to reflect on the events that have affected their daily life over the past year, and thus give us a better understanding of Ukrainian children and young people’s ideas about democratic values, politics, justice and so on.
The essay competition
It is important to give children the opportunity to express their thoughts, hopes and concerns, and to let them feel that they are not voiceless, especially in a situation where the entire country’s attention is primarily directed at what is happening in eastern Ukraine. Child sociology has thus taught us that children are competent, independent and opinion-forming individuals who have a right to be heard.
The competition is aimed at children and youth aged 7-17 years. Contributions can be in Ukrainian, Russian or other minority languages. Participants are free to choose a thematic, based on the guidelines of the competition. Contributions may include prose and/or poetry (3-25 pages), photographs, drawings and so on. Deadline for submission is set to December 25, 2014.
All contributions will be published in book form and/or digitally. A jury consisting of Ukrainian politicians, newspaper editors, writers, and researchers from abroad, as well as two representatives from Maidan Norway, will read through all the contributions.
Maidan Norway wants to make the results of the competition available to a wider international audience, by translating selected contributions to Norwegian/English, and summarize some important aspects of the contributions in at least one newspaper article or the like.
The aim of the project is to:
- Identify and analyze the views of children and young people on the events in Ukraine since November 2013, with a special focus on children and young people’s understanding of concepts such as «European values» and «democratic freedom».
- Analyze the results by discussing them in the round table workshops involving specialists from various disciplines, including teachers, psychologists, social workers and others.
- Develop recommendations and communicate these to the ministries and regulatory bodies in Ukraine, agencies working with young people and so on.
- Documenting children and youth’s perspective, for later use in research.
- Evaluate the psychological state of children in light of the events in Ukraine.
- Provide input to agencies that provide psychological support to children and young people who have been exposed to stress over time.
See more about the essay competition here.