Kabeer Yousuf –
On a Monday evening, audiences witnessed children donning the garments of professionals and enacting on stage how the world would look like if it’s governed by their little hands.
It was the culmination of the UNICEF-organised ‘Walkathon’, an event that was part of a series of children empowerment activities executed over a few weeks. Several children from various schools in Oman gathered at the Qurum Natural Park at 3.30pm on November 20 for a noble cause and walked to bring the world’s attention to help save children’s lives.
The Walkathon aimed to fight for children’s rights and shine the spotlight on the most pressing challenges faced by their generation, thanks to the efforts of UNICEF whose motto is supporting and encouraging children worldwide.
“Today is an important day in these children’s lives as they gathered together and took over some roles for a while”, Lana al Wreikat, a UNICEF Representative said.
“World Children’s Day is a fun day with a serious message, children around the world come together to raise the public attention to their rights and to save their lives,”she added.
This marked the Sultanate’s participation in the global event for the first time with a number of ‘takeover’ activities also marked the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the mobilisation of the first World Children’s Day, Lana said.
The thought of takeover activities stemmed from the fact that children would be taking over key roles today, in media, politics, business, sport and entertainment to voice their support for millions of their peers who are unschooled, unprotected and uprooted globally.
UNICEF’s Oman Country Office partnered along with Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development had executed a number of successful takeover activities in coordination with Government Officials and large companies.
The takeover activities included conducting an interview with Dr Ahmed al Saidi, Minister of Health, Shaikh Mohammed al Kalbani, Minister of Social Development and Dr Hamood al Harthy, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education. Children also shadowed the CEOs, of large companies such as Omantel, M-Co Group of Companies, Riyada, The National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) as well as, Alizz Bank and the Information Technology Authority (ITA).
There was a large positive response received, with CEOs commending and enjoying the activities and appreciating a child’s perspective on leadership. These experiences left the children feeling inspired and eager to become the CEOs and leaders of tomorrow.
The Walkathon was followed by a few performances by school students who were invited by the Ministry of Education to participate with drawings and essays under the title: “What would the world look like if children took over?”.
“With 27.2 percent of the Omani population is 19 years old and under, children are an integral and important segment of society who need to be heard and whose ideas need to be validated.
The great response and enthusiasms we received from all participants in our World Children’s Day events shows the constant commitment that Oman has to children and to raising their voices. Today’s walkathon would not have been possible without the children and the support of our partner government institutions” Al Wreikat added.