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Child Rights: Wants and Needs

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Encourage the group to think about what rights are and why they are so important.

Take part in an activity with your patrol to find out about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Posters/print outs of child friendly versions of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Set of Wants and Needs cards for each group (in attached file below)

Websites with resources:

Has similar activity and other activities related to The Convention


Divide participants into groups of four or five – each group receives a pack of wants and needs cards.

Step 1: Explain the game. Each group should imagine they are a new government. The government wants to provide all children and young people with the basic things that they need. Each group should sort through their cards and decide if the item represented by that card is something children ‘need’ or something that they ‘want’. Let each government feedback what they consider needs.

Step 2: Crisis! Explain dramatically that something terrible has happened! The government is facing a tough political and economic situation and will have to make cutbacks. As a group the participants should decide which six ‘needs’ to keep and why. Another crisis! The situation has worsened, and they now have to choose only their top four needs to keep. Each group should choose one representative to report back to others why they chose/prioritised their top four. Facilitator tip! Make a note of differences for further discussion.

Step 3: Discussion. How did the groups find the process? Were there differences in opinion? Was it difficult to reach a decision? Did any groups differ on their top needs?
Discuss why one chose e.g. food and the other group education or protection (does one assume or imply another?) Ask if you can have one without the other – for example, can you have education without protection from neglect or abuse?

Ask the group how they think the activity links to children’s rights. Explain that rights are based on needs – but they are much more powerful than that as they mean that someone is responsible for ensuring they are met. Governments have an obligation to ensure as much as possible every child’s survival and development (Article 6).
Explain that children’s rights are universal (they apply to all children under the age of 18) and they are also indivisible (which means you can’t separate them).
Explain that no government should be faced with having to make these choices. And no children should be faced with the reality of not having their rights fulfilled.
At this point you can introduce the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


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