Hintalovon’s Kid Colleagues (KiCo) are children aged 13-17 who volunteer in their free time to help the Foundation’s work regarding children’s rights. They bring a child’s perspective to our work, from the conception of projects right up to their evaluation. They are our advisors, activists, co-researchers, authors, speakers, and volunteers at the same time. Their role at the Foundation is so multidimensional that in December 2022, after 6 years, we decided to change the former name of their position, “Child Rights Ambassadors”, to something that better describes their true role. The name Kid Colleagues (KiCo) was chosen at their suggestion and in agreement with them.
We have been involving children in our work since we were founded. In 2016, we involved some secondary school students in a specific project, which ended up being such a productive and important learning experience that we created a specific program to involve children. When we set up the first children’s team, we didn’t know exactly what we would do together or how we would be able to do it. We were driven by curiosity to know what they thought and we were sure that it is only worth thinking about children together with them. We chose the name “Child Rights Ambassador” for them. We felt it was important to let others experience that children are competent in children’s rights issues and to involve children in advocating for their rights. Later, as the scope of our activities expanded and we gained more knowledge and experience about the involvement of children, their role and work in the Foundation changed and evolved. Today, they typically work with us not as ambassadors or representatives of children’s rights, but as our consultants, activists, co-researchers, authors, and speakers.
We had to say: they are much more than children’s rights ambassadors. They are our colleagues.
In recent years, for example:
- They expressed their opinion on the comprehensibility of our materials for children
- They gave ideas on what we could do to help and accommodate children fleeing the war in Ukraine
- They helped us think about what questions to ask and how to ask them in our research examining children’s experiences of violence
- They gave advice on what to consider when working on how to make schools safer
- They wrote in our 2021 Children’s Rights Report about what they felt were the defining events of the year from their perspective
- They took part in a roundtable discussion about online safety
- They made a podcast about abuse
- They spoke at the Keeping Children Safe Global Conference on the importance of keeping children involved and safe
- They participated in the EU Children’s Rights Forum
- They campaigned so that more children could be involved in the UN report regarding children’s experiences
- They spoke about their own relevant experiences at our training sessions for professionals
We wanted to choose a name that reflects their real activities, rather than just focusing on one or another of their roles. We were looking for a descriptive name that did not impose any expectations on them (e.g. to have a thorough knowledge of children’s rights, to speak on behalf of other groups of children, or even to be their representative as a whole).
We also involved the children in the renaming of their position. The name Kid Colleagues (KiCo) was chosen from among their suggestions and in agreement with them.