What do the Kids Think?
Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have the right to express their views and have them taken seriously in all matters affecting them. “There are widely held views that children lack capacity to make informed contributions to decision-making, that doing so may place them at risk and that their participation will have adverse effects on family and school life. However, the experience of child participation around the world provides a growing body of evidence, not only that these concerns are unfounded, but that participation has a widespread positive impact. If adults are to fulfil their obligations to promote the best interests of children, they need to listen to children themselves. The Committee on the Rights of the Child considers that recognizing the right of the child to express views and to participate in various activities, according to her or his evolving capacities, is beneficial for the child, the family, the community, the school, the state and democracy.” Gerison Lansdown, UNICEF.
Here at the VKEP we are now in our 8th year of serving the children and community of Volcanes. At the beginning of every year, we have held meetings with parents and community members to get their input and opinion on how we can best serve their children and community. But this was not enough. We really wanted to know what the children think of the programs we provide and get THEIR point of view of our project.
“The right to speak is the right to be listened to; in practice there is a gap between speaking and being listened to.”
Young people at Shaking the Movers Conference, Carleton University, Canada 2007
The Seaver Foundation is a respected organization/charity from England(www.theseaverfoundation.org). Apart from financially supporting various children projects around the world (some here in Puerto Vallarta), they are heavily involved and trained to conduct child-centered evaluations of programs working with children. In their 5-year existence, they have conducted approximately 20 such evaluations in different countries, interviewing children only – no adults. They are heavily involved in protecting children’s rights and, through their evaluations, get children’s opinions about services being provided for them. Based on their evaluations, they are then able to make recommendations to those programs in order to make them more effective.
In April of 2018 The Seaver Foundation sent three of their members, to conduct an extensive evaluation of our program. They were here for 2 weeks and were able to interview 106 kids from 2nd grade – 6th grade. The final report is 18 pages long and details the methods used and the results obtained. We received a very positive result from the evaluations, along with a couple of recommendations to better serve our students. Here is a brief summary of their findings:
- “In 5 years of talking to children about the charitable and voluntary services they receive, this has been the most positive evaluation received.”
- At the VKEP children feel safe, happy, inspired, proud (a huge majority of children used these expressions to describe their feelings about our project) and had overwhelmingly positive emotions towards our teachers.
- “VKEP is of extreme importance to the children of the Volcanes community.”
- “There were no major concerns arising” although they did make a few recommendations. One of them was making drinking water more accessible to students. As a result, we have placed a water dispenser in every classroom.
If you would like to read the full report you can click here: (will open in new window)
This report is confirmation that we are all filling a great need here in the Volcanes community. We thank every single person who has contributed in any way (donors, teachers, parents, volunteers, etc.) to make this program what it is today. We have a lot more work to be done.
GO TO SCHOOL. STAY IN SCHOOL. DREAM BIG.