Citizenship for all: promoting child protagonism
Arca is an NGO devoted to children’s rights. For 25 yrs Arca has worked with children & youth on issues that range from child citizenship to their participation
About Your Organization
Asociación Civil El Arca
Argentina, B, Moreno
Country where this project is creating social impact
Argentina, B, Moreno
Is your organization a
Non‐profit / NGO / Citizen sector organization
Your role in Education
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Established (past the previous stages and has demonstrated success)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for more than 5 years
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Youth participation is vital right to the exercise of citizenship of children as subjects of rights. This involves not just considering them as future citizens but as current citizens. However, we fully understand that children's voices are not heard, and it's necessary to create spaces that allow them to express themselves and contribute their ideas and projects. It's necessary to build empathy between adults and children, between officials and citizens.
The International Convention on the Rights of the Child was incorporated in the Constitution of Argentina in its 1994 reform. This principle is reflected in the National Law N. 26,061 which represents a first step. However, the proposed approach must be installed in the social sphere through real actions.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Our solution is to implement the right to participation of children and adolescents in educational institutions they attend and their community. We aim to create spaces where youth participation is a fact and allow both children and adults to share learning practices; and to build a collective understanding of the participation of children. These spaces are articulated through games, sports and the arts; they are the most effective and genuine form to engage children to express their opinions and ideas and to build empathy. The project aims to promote community involvement, together with community organizations and local political actors, in considering the role of children as leaders and contributors.
Educational institutions are important actors to include, together with the children, their families and others in the community that can contribute to build opportunities for participation and collective solutions.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
A good example is the Forum: in the 2nd Forum children told there were no places to play in their neighborhoods. From this, a group of five organizations managed to get funds from the Arcor Foundation and a commitment of the local state to properly equip two squares. The entire community participated in the process.
- Meetings and Consultations in schools and community centers: allow children and educators to discuss daily conflicts and create solutions together. In schools where the workshops took place, there was an improvement in the community environment and the proposed changes were generated by children, such as including table games at breaks.
- Arts and sports activities: allow groups of children to organize around group activities, and collectively build a children’s group. In the process they can be accompanied by adults, but children should always play a leading role. Groups that began participating in workshops are today co-managed with adults. The boys’ soccer workshop, for example, has redeveloped a wasteland to make a soccer field that today is part of a soccer league.
- Youth communications teams: children and youth inform their community about the projects’ activities, learning communications techniques in the process.
-Youth Group: promoting the rights in their community, creating relations with younger children.
-Cultural events: offer children and adults shared access to leisure activities.
-Monitoring of children in distress: it involves children and families together to solve difficult situations and return to school.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Arca’s tradition is to work with others. The territorial approach to the problem of childhood requires building networks. The specialty of Arca is our emphasis on citizenship for children.
In Cuartel V, 2 government primary schools and 5 community centers are associated with our project. We also work in collaboration with a cultural center, a public library and two state gardens. Along with several of them we make up the Network for the right of children on Cuartel V, which now is 5 years running, with 20 member organizations, including the city of Moreno.
The challenge is to build a shared vision from the paradigm of the child as a subject of law, and advance their participation in the actions and decisions that affect their lives.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
To promote and implement the right of children to participate in educational institutions, community and the local government.
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
We build opportunities for participation with children and young people, involving educational institutions, community and government.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
It created a commission of child participation in the city local house of representatives
-1500 children per year have gone through the process of assembly in their schools, creating solutions with adults to improve relationships (e.g. add games to breaks)
-1500 children per year were consulted in their schools, their views were heard and infrastructure was improved
-3 squares were redeveloped by children and organizations in the area, following the views of 300 children who participate annually in the Forum
-175 children and their families were accompanied by a professional for one year to resolve difficult situations and support the school attendance
-3000 children participate in art events in schools and community spaces, along with educators and families, improving their access to cultural property and the enjoyment shared across generations
-1500 children and youth have daily free access to spaces related to the arts, sport, leisure, communication and promotion of rights
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
-That children, educators, families and the authorities learn the rights of youth participation and generate actions to ensure compliance.
-That in educational institutions the views of children are taken into account in planning activities that involve them, particularly those working with children up to 6 years old.
-Connect groups of children and organized teenagers that characterize a children's collective and promote change in their communities.
-Install spaces of joint decision making between children and adults of each institution.
Set groundwork for the commission for the participation on the Local Council, ensuring that the voices of all children and teenagers are taken into account by policy makers dealing with the rights of children.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
At the same time the right to youth participation is recognized in the rhetoric, in practice the subject is considered counter-cultural (especially in the case of small children). To overcome this, we plan to:
-Promote the dissemination of information about the exercise of citizenship by children, producing material with the children benefited from the program, and improving the community participation.
-Promote the organization of a group of children and youth who participate in project and activities in schools and centers, generating empathy between them and adults.
-Require the local government to guarantee the right of children and youth to participate in policy advocacy instances of children.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
1. Set up a calendar of cultural activities, sports, etc. in partnership with other organizations & the government.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Identification and initial support of groups of children and / or youth who are ready to grow as a group.
Development and implementation of an agenda of participatory activities in centers, schools and the municipal government.
The implementation and sustainability of a space for participatory events with children and adults in other orgs and gov offices
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
1.Network of children groups organized in the territorial level. 2. Setting groundwork for the commission of youth participation
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
The follow-up for children groups and the organization of collective activities that unite them.
The organization of activities put in place in partnership with the centers, schools and the local government.
The evaluation of processes & solutions in partnership with orgs, local gov. and the benefited children and/or youth
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
Arca started working with the rights of children in 1986, when Betina Perona (founder) created a project to organize children living in the streets. Since then, we work with a participation model that stimulates the citizenship of children. In homes, we find that children’s participation is getting better: "Aha!" In 2000, we began to bond with the community of Cuartel V, as many children came to shelters from there and we wanted to prevent that situation.
We partner with schools and community centers, which were the first to detect situations of rights violations. The following year we got funding from a Spanish foundation. We decided to collectively go and build a territorial project that promoted the exercise of citizenship for children. In 2008 we began the process of closing an orphanage, which was completed in 2011 with the exit of the last child. At the same time, the citizenship project grew in Cuartel V.
Tell us about your partnerships
At Arca we believe that all actors in our society must be involved in social investment. To be efficient and effective true collaboration requires the interaction between government, business, civil society organizations and citizens.
In this sense, we seek strategic partners in the private sector, civil society organizations and universities.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
The permanent staff of Arca consists of 16 sub-contracted employees, 11 full-time and 5 part-time.
We also work with workshop managers recruited for specific activities and peridoically have volunteers and trainees of different courses and universities.
During 2011, we formed a group of 20 young people (volunteers) from Cuartel V who were trained as rights advocate facilitators and community organizers with our support.
In addition, networking with other organizations means that all work on a common project.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
-Human Resources / Talent: Members of Arca have provided technical assistance and training to other projects and organizations.
-Research / Information: We can educate others about children’s rights and youth participation.
- Collaboration / Networks: Arca coordinates the RedOnda: Argentinian network for the rights of children and the stimulation of its national youth participation.