UNICEF Poland and Sopot signed an agreement under which the city joins the international program UNICEF Child-Friendly City and will apply for the award of this title. Sopot is another urban center in Poland that joined the program, there are over 4,000 of them worldwide.
The Child-Friendly City program is a global UNICEF initiative addressed to local governments. Cities from all over the world form a network of cities and agglomerations, the hallmark of which is taking care of the needs of the youngest residents. The main goal of the program is to support cities in providing children with the best possible living and development conditions, which in practice translates into the actual implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
From the very beginning, Sopot’s cooperation with UNICEF Polska was guided by the idea of creating a child-friendly environment. Therefore, the city authorities decided to start talks with UNICEF Poland on the possibility of participating in the program.
A key element of planning strategic activities for children in the city is to diagnose the situation of the youngest. So far, Sopot has analyzed the following areas: education, health, culture, sport and recreation, as well as helping children at risk of social exclusion. The cities also consulted their activities with young citizens, asking them about what they like in their city, what they lack and how they assess the city’s activities for children and youth to date. Involving young people in decision-making processes is one of the key mechanisms that all cities joining the initiative are committed to.
Under the agreement signed by Magdalena Czarzyńska-Jachim, vice-president of the city on the part of Sopot, Sopot becomes a participant of the Child-Friendly City program and will implement planned activities for children, including, among others: strengthening the participation of children and adolescents, promoting children’s rights, creating appropriate conditions for development in the field of education, health and recreation. Participation in the program is not only about applying for the title, but most of all trying to guarantee the youngest citizens optimal living conditions.
The Children-Friendly City program is based on three pillars: the involvement of the local government (introducing changes inside the administrative structures), the involvement of children (direct inclusion of children in the city’s life) and the involvement of partners (including the local community in building a child-friendly environment). The Children-Friendly City title is awarded for two years, followed by a reassessment of the activities carried out and verification of whether the city meets all the required criteria.
The program is already successfully operating in 45 countries around the world. Among the Child-Friendly Cities there are, among others Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Chicago, London or Quebec. Currently, in Poland, other municipal centers, such as Kraków, Poznań and Konin, apply for inclusion in the UNICEF program.