Ruairí Holohan (15) from Drogheda, Co. Louth was selected to stage this year’s #KidsTakeOver. During his Zoom call with the Taoiseach, Ruairí outlined the importance of achieving respect for all through schools’ programmes, highlighting, in particular, his personal experience of homophobic bullying. Ruairí spoke about his disappointment at the lack of education around issues facing young gay people in the RSE programmes offered currently. The Taoiseach listened carefully and agreed with the student’s view that it is difficult to feel comfortable in a school environment where such issues are not adequately addressed.
This year’s celebrations also included virtual conversations between a group of Young Changemakers and Government Ministers. Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman and Minister for Education Norma Foley joined teenagers who had recently participated in UNICEF Ireland’s youth activism course to discuss child rights issues relating to their briefs.
Meanwhile, in partnership with IOM, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration in Ireland, two further conversations were organised for young people who wanted to discuss children’s rights with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, and Justice, Helen McEntee.
In 2019 Charles Gallagher, from County Donegal spent World Children’s Day shadowing the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. He began the day by attending a British Irish Council at Farmleigh House in Dublin, where he met the First Minister of Scotland Nichola Sturgeon.
Charles won UNICEF Ireland’s 2019 #KidsTakeOver competition after he submitted a video describing the changes he would make as leader in order to protect young people’s future.
During a private meeting with the Taoiseach, Charles addressed issues around young people’s well-being in school. Within the school environment, he wants to see greater supports for students in the areas of youth mental health, learning disabilities and dealing with exam pressures. He wants young people right across the country to be given access to the same standardised supports and courses, regardless of where the young person lives. Charles also took the opportunity to raise concerns facing his generation around climate change.
Charles then met with the Minister for Health to again raise his concerns on the available supports to young people suffering from mental health concerns. He travelled back to government buildings to have further meetings with the Taoiseach’s special advisor on Climate and the Environment and the International Relations team.