As part of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, students from St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School have been taking part in a range of activities to help them explore the rights children have under the convention. The school has been a member of the Rights Respecting Schools campaign for many years and this year as part of the Outright initiative, the school has been celebrating the role the Convention plays in helping students to understand how they can be empowered to speak out on issues that affect them and raise awareness of importance rights in their lives. The students decided that the most pertinent issue they could campaign for was to ensure that the Dalriada Hospital remained open and how this vital service was important to them, their families and community. Mr Kinney, the Vice Principal commented that “It is inspiring to see young people take an active interest in their community and put their education to good use to ensure that the services in this area are protected for the people who need them most. I know the children have worked very hard on this topic because it means something to them, they know people these decisions will affect and they want to do their best to help them. I could not be more proud of them”. The P 7 students researched the effects of MS and how to write formal letters. They wrote to the Minister for Health, Mr Jim Wells, to voice their concerns about the decision to close Dalriada hospital and made it clear that as members of this community and future tax payers and voters they believed that the Dalriada hospital is a vital part of the Health Service of Northern Ireland and should not be closed.
Mrs Annemarie Fitzpatrick, the Rights Respecting Schools co-ordinator in the school commented that “Our school has been involved in the UNICEF Rights Respecting school programme for 7 years now. Our P7’s have lived the Rights Respecting ethos for their whole primary school career and it is very obvious in the ways they treat each other and their concern for their local community. It is wonderful to see them band together and join the campaign to Save Our Dal.”
As the Children from St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School exercise their rights under Article 12 of the Rights of the Child to help influence government decisions, we hope that local people take comfort in the fact that children in the community are doing all they can to ensure local services are protected in the future.