Our Work

With Seen and Heard: Young People’s Voices and Freedom of Expression, our objective is to achieve a just and equitable social movement of young people who believe that freedom of expression is a basic human right for ALL persons. We provide mentorship and resources that embody the European values of human rights for all, diversity, and integration as core values in our society for both local and migrant communities, in order to enhance participation in democratic life from a young age. 

Using the idea of ‘creative protest’ as a basis for social change, the project places youth at risk of marginalisation and exclusion, at the centre of political dialogue through blended learning experiences and sustained support from researchers, educators, artists, activists, publishers, and policy makers. 

It develops in three phases across three countries; research on human rights with 10 to 14-year-old children in schools, a freedom of expression and creative protest mentoring programme, and the launch of a social movement. 

The research explores young people’s understanding of freedom of expression and the role that the arts, more specifically literature, can play in fostering the courage to speak up about injustice in various contexts. It offers both a national case study for Malta, Germany and Poland, as well as a valuable comparative study that will advance discussions not only of citizenship, agency and activism in children’s literature studies but also in the interdisciplinary landscape of childhood studies, media studies, pedagogy, geopolitics, migrant studies. It will also benefit publishers and policy makers in better understanding how to promote freedom of expression and how to create systems that ensure that no young person is left behind.

Through the mentoring programme, young people will be resourced to explore issues that are important to them and will embark on a process of designing, producing, and sharing a creative protest. The creative protests will be a window into the thoughts, fears, and hopes of young people and will showcase innovative solutions to current problems. 

By the end of the project, the young people will better understand their human rights through stories and other forms of communication, will be more confident in expressing themselves (through a variety of media), and have faith that their voices matter. 

Through the launch of the social movement, educators, artists, publishers, activists, and policy makers will have a deeper insight into young people’s worldview and, we hope, will begin to adapt their work to defend all young people’s human rights (local, refugee, asylum seekers, immigrant), and better support the needs of young people.

Seen and Heard is a meaningful project not only because it is interdisciplinary (bringing education into conversation with art and activism) or cross sectoral (bringing universities together with schools and a global human rights organisation), but also because it places at the forefront young people who may not otherwise be given a chance to be seen and heard. We actively seek to raise each child up, to compensate for the systemic failure to dismantle privilege wherever it appears, to listen deeply and let children speak their truth, even when that truth makes us uncomfortable. We sit alongside each other. We discuss with each other. We step forward in the spirit of ‘care-full activism’. And, we look forward to sharing this journey with you too.

Should you wish to learn more about Seen and Heard or to collaborate with us, we would like to hear from you.  

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Nicky Parker (Amnesty International, Poland)

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