Child Rights Week: A wishlist from the citizens we rarely hear

As Child Rights Week was observed, we asked children from different pockets of Chennai about their dreams and expectations from the city.

As urban citizens, we all have different desires, aspiration and expectations from our city. We raise issues that we face in our day-to-day lives, we voice our concerns, share our wishlists, but we rarely perceive things from the perspective of a child.

This Child Rights Week (November 14th to 20th), we spoke to a few children from the city. Here is what they had to say about the city and what they want from it:

K Mithun, Class 6, Chitlapakkam

Due to COVID, all our day-to-day learning activities have moved online. While it is convenient for most of us, it really saddens me when some of my friends miss the classes, as they do not have smartphones or have siblings who have to share the device to attend their classes. A few of us help them out by summarising the classes. Digital divide is an important aspect that we should overcome.

A Shalini, Solaiappan Street, Old Washermanpet

I want my neighbourhood to have a lot of trees, including medicinal herbs and birds. I also want to do farming; I have seen my facilitator P S Vaishnavi akka do farming. I want to have a small kitchen garden like set-up behind my house along with a pump set. I want to help farmers, elders and children. 

Shalini’s dream is to have a garden behind her house as portrayed. Pic: Shalini

There used to be a lot of sparrows in my locality, but due to rapid urbanisation and development, I do not see the birds these days. 

P Nithyashree, Class 7, Solaiappan Street

I love parks and gardens. We do not have a park for us to play in our locality; I wish our neighbourhood would have a park with swing, teeterboard, and other play equipment for children like us. I also love playing games like kho-kho and hockey, that need open spaces. 

Nithyashree’s dreams to grow a lot of plants and a playground in her locality. Pic: Nithyashree

Yashika V, Class 12, Saidapet

When life was normal, until a few months ago, every day I would see many old people, children, persons with disabilities and mentally challenged people lying in parks and bus stops. When I grow up, I want to see a Chennai that does not let its citizens down. I want to provide shelter for all homeless persons. Many children of my age sell colouring books or toys at traffic signals. It is heartbreaking to see the economic disparities which force children to beg or work when they should be at school. I will work towards educating these children and provide them with basic needs.

M Haripriya, Class 4, Thiruvottiyur

I like to play running games. But in my school, there is a huge gender disparity as girls are not allowed to play such games. We will be made to sit in a classroom and are given toys to play with. I want a city where children are not compartmentalised on the basis of gender and are free to participate in all activities.

M Poojitha, Class 9, Solaiappan Street

I like to read books and do crafts. But we do not have a library nearby and my school does not have the facility either. I want a library near my street and I want to read books about our Indian freedom fighters and nature. 

The metro rail project has taken away our playground, due to which we end up playing in our street. We do not feel comfortable because a lot of vehicles, particularly lorries, pass through our street. Girls in our street also face the problems of bullies. As soon as the bullies start teasing, we go back to our home. I want a playground for us to play. 

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