Swiss children take to the streets

Children will write down how they feel about their environment.

Universal Children's Day is being marked in Switzerland with many national and local events.

This content was published on November 20, 2002 - 07:48

All the organisations working for the protection and the defence of children and teenagers are taking part.

Wednesday's events are being run by 11 Swiss organisations, including Pro Juventute, Swissaid, Terre des Hommes and Amnesty International.

"Even if children's rights still have a long way to go, we decided to make this day a celebration for youngsters," said René Maytain, the head of Pro Juventute in French-speaking Switzerland.

The foundation has planned a series of events, with the avowed aim of making the population more aware of children's rights.

With its "Oasis in the Desert" project, Pro Juventute is encouraging children to walk around their neighbourhood, village, the road to their school or the playground.

The children must then use balloons to identify the places where they feel comfortable and consider to be an "oasis". They can also use the balloons to mark "deserts" as well.

Street children

The children have been asked to write down their remarks on blackboards and to explain to adults how they perceive their environment, so that everyone can work together to improve it.

Terre des Hommes has chosen another tack, preferring to remind the population of the exploitation suffered by children around the world.

"Because of increasing urbanisation, around 50 per cent of the world's population, and therefore children, is living in cities and towns," said Bernard Boéton of Terre des Hommes.

"That means many of those children are living on the street."

Over 4,500 Swiss children are going to spend the day as street urchins. All around the country, they will shine shoes and try to sell sweets, like street children in other parts of the world.

swissinfo with agencies

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