Leeds’ Child friendly leeds initiative has sparked interest from authorities around the world. laura bowyer reports.
And authorities from around the world have been asking officials for advice after feeling inspired by the city’s Child Friendly Leeds initiative.
Council bosses launched their vision to make sure children have the best possible start to life nearly two years ago and now their efforts look likely to go global.
Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services, told the YEP: “If we are able to give children and young people the best possible start and make the city the best place to go up then we will have a sustainable, prosperous and economic future in Leeds.
“Child Friendly Leeds is not just about doing the right thing for children it is about economic regeneration as well.
“There is a network of communities around the world and we talk to them and they talk to us to exchange information about different projects, ideas and initiatives.
“We have even seen interest from places such as Rome, Detroit, Vermont, Canada, Australia and New Zealand about the initiative.
“We would always talk to any authority in the country and anywhere in the world about how best to look after children and provide children with the best possible start and best possible chance in life.
“They are the future leaders of our communities.
“Everybody needs to learn from everybody else.”
This week the YEP announced that it is throwing its weight behind the Child Friendly Leeds campaign.
We launched a major new survey aimed at improving the lives of youngsters across the city - and to give them a voice.
We want children and adults to tell us what they like about living in Leeds, what they don’t like and crucially, what they want to see change.
We are also calling on the business community to sign a pledge to give their assurances they will provide opportunities to brighten the prospects for every child living in Leeds.
Coun Blake added: “If you can give children the best possible start in life it pays huge dividends in later life.
“If children have had a bad start in life, it can increase the likelihood of poor outcomes, socially, economically and health-wise, when they grow up.
“Therefore this approach is an important public health strategy as well.
“The idea of celebrating children and young people has been picked up by a number of other areas, whether it is good luck messages for children when they do exams to say that the city is behind them or our thumbs up branding that we use. “
And she said people have approached them for advice about their Children’s Mayor.
Coun Blake added: “Not every city has a Children’s Mayor and people want to talk to us about that.
“Other authorities are interested in the work that we have done to reduce the number of looked after children in Leeds, improve attendance and reduce the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training.
“I think there is quite a big challenge for us to keep raising awareness about exactly what we mean in terms of a child friendly city.
“It doesn’t mean stop everything we are doing and do something different.
“This is about rights and responsibilities of children as citizens of Leeds and children having an equal status in our city.”
l See what youngsters in Leeds think about growing up in the city in our special video at www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk.
l Tomorrow we look at what businesses can do to pledge their support to Child Friendly Leeds.