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The participation

Why let children participate? There are many positive effects of the involvement of children in the government of cities. Participating gives the possibility to become active subjects, directly expressing needs and desires. Roger Hart, an expert on children's rights, in his work Children’s Participation tells how participation in the city life is a fundamental educational moment for children.

But children's participation is also a lesson for adults. Listening to the opinions of children, they can learn to consider them no longer as "citizens of the future", but as political subjects of the present, able to influence and improve the reality that surrounds us.

Children's point of view

Children express a different point of view on how the place where we live should be. It is precisely this different view that is the key to "saving" our cities - but some concrete actions are needed:

  • Real involvement: To be effective, participation must be genuine, with specific objectives defined together with the children at the beginning of the participatory process.
  • Aiming to achieve something: the children needs should be considered "here and now", making real commitments such as renovating a public space or trying to solve the problems of pedestrian mobility in a specific area.
  • Learning to listen: adults participating in the process should have a supportive role rather than a guiding one, making the children autonomous at all stages of the process.

So what is the concrete value of this project? Here are 3 good reasons to encourage children to participate in the life of the city.



Participating has a strong educational value because it makes children part of the community. So the city becomes "their" city, thanks to the development of a strong civic sense since the early years of school. The social effects of this educational process are clear: through the children, the families will take on new attitudes to support their sons and daughters.



The participation of children is a necessary condition for a more democratic design of the city. One of the most serious limitations of recent city development is that it takes into account almost exclusively the needs of the adult and productive citizen. There has been little interest in public spaces for leisure and pedestrian mobility within neighbourhoods. Involving children means reversing this perspective, giving voice to those who have not been heard in the design of cities as they represent the needs of other categories of citizens such as the elderly and people with disabilities.



Creative ideas are needed to promote urban development, and  children are often the main innovators. They are not only able to express their needs, but also to develop concrete proposals on how to meet them. Their ideas are not always immediately achievable, but they are often creative and innovative. That's why a city that really wants to undertake a path of change needs the concrete contribution of children.

Articles about Participation

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