It has been four years since its inception that UNICEF supports the junior version of TEDx in Armenia. This collaboration has two main goals - make children’s voices heard by using innovative tools and bring together children and decision-makers to initiate a dialogue between them. UNICEF Communication Officer Zara Sargsyan informs that children’s talks during the event concern a variety of issues - education, with a focus on inclusive education; nutrition-related issues at school cafeterias; gender related topics, including the issue of sex-selective abortions. With the support of UNICEF, the organizers were able to take TEDxKids events outside of Yerevan to the regions. Hence the second gathering this year will be held in Stepanavan (TEDxYouth@Stepanavan).
A similar programme was implemented in Dilijan last year together with TUMO Center. “We brought together two groups of children - with and without disabilities, for one week with the task to produce one-minute films,” recalls Zara. “On the first day, the groups sat separately during lunch, however, on the last day we noticed that the boys and the girls sat separately together. So disability was no longer an acceptance issue.” The films covered a range of issues that concerned local children. One of them related to the lack of extracurricular activities for children in Dilijan. Collectively, the films showed the differences in life for children who live outside of Yerevan.
To voice their issues, children have also been involved in an inclusive photography workshop, implemented by UNICEF together with TUMO Center and PanArmenian PHOTO this summer in Yerevan.
Following Lennon’s Example
Last year Armenia joined UNICEF’s global #IMAGINE campaign dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child with the goal to invite everyone to imagine a different world for children. The campaign, led by David Guetta, emphasized the amount of work that is still left to be done to ensure a better life for children in different parts of the world. For that purpose, UNICEF developed a TouchCast mobile application through which users could record their own version of John Lennon’s classic. For every uploaded recording through the app, a one-dollar donation was made to support UNICEF programmes. Hundreds of people participated in the initiative also from Armenia. In addition, UNICEF involved celebrities and produced a local, Armenian version of #IMAGINE with the participation of Serj Tankian, Gor Sujyan, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, Little Singers of Armenia choir, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Alla Levonyan and Tigran Petrosyan. The production was led by Armen Martirosyan and Hrach Keshishyan.
Planting the Seeds
With each year, the UN office in Armenia finds new and more innovatie ways to engage with children and young people. In the near future UNICEF Armenia plans to design an app for mothers and pregnant women. “With the help of the app we hope to support women to initiate breastfeeding, ensure proper nutrition for their infants, prepare for childbirth and motherhood and enable a caring environment for their children at home,” says Zara. “The app will allow users to screen video materials and regularly updated content, which will be designed to help current and future parents take better care of their children and stay informed when making decisions on child nutrition and care.”
* This is an excerpt from the special issue of Yerevan magazine, published in October 2015, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.