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The Perspective
The Perspective

November 20, 2015

SickKids patients reflect on the Rights of the Child

Children’s Council at The Hospital for Sick Children. Members include Katie Armstrong, Kate Atkinson, Teyohate Brant, Patrick Chappell, Stephanie Clayton, Amanda Farr, Tobin Haas, Brooke Henry, Kiely Mackey, Adediyi Omishore, Mathew Pigott, Emily Ruytenbeek, Charlene Shao, Jasmin Singh, and Jessica Stevenson

“You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to take it seriously.”
– Article 12, UN Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is celebrated each year on November 20th. It is a list of the rights given to every child around the world. It lists things that we should have and things that we should be allowed to do. For kids that are in a hospital, we often have to depend on those around us to keep us safe, and to make the right decisions for us. But sometimes, we, the kids, know best. We can tell you how we feel about a treatment or a test. Because of that, we have the right to share our opinion. The adults in our lives, such as our parents, nurses and doctors have the privilege of listening and taking what we say seriously. We should never be passed off as a ‘kid’ saying something cute or funny.

In efforts to empower kids, and give us a voice, there is a Children’s Council at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). The role of the Children’s Council is to share our thoughts, opinions and experiences with SickKids’ leaders and decision-makers. At every Children’s Council meeting, we have guest speakers from the hospital come in to talk to us and to get our opinion on how we think the hospital is doing.

Have you ever heard of the “Meal Train”? Do you enjoy looking at the amazing artwork on the walls around SickKids? These are both ideas that the Children’s Council was key in designing. It was us kids who shared our opinions on the food and the adults listened.

This year on the Council, we are proud to be working on so many exciting and innovative ideas such as a project called “Reaching Out to Receive the Voice of Others.” This is a revamp of the suggestion box. We are going to keep the boxes, but also have an electronic version going on, so that it is more accessible to everyone. We love to hear from you! So share your opinions. You have the right!

Many of us on the Council are SickKids “frequent flyers” as we call it. We spend a lot of time at the hospital, so what happens is important to us. Over the last couple of years, the doctors, and everyone else has grown a lot in the way that they communicate with patients and families. Sometimes, we still have some trouble, but there is always room to grow and learn at SickKids. We strive for the perfect triangle of communication and decision-making of patients, families and the hospital.

The Children’s Council is a special place to be. We meet with people from all areas of the hospital when they come to our meetings to speak with us about projects and ideas! They want our opinions, and the most special part is that we get to represent the opinions of all patients at SickKids. If that is a bit hard to understand, think of a school council and how they represent all the kids. They have art reps and sport reps. We have inpatient reps, outpatient reps and other reps from all the wards and locations in between. The Council tries our hardest to make sure that everyone is heard. We invite our guests to come back and join us, to show us how they incorporated our opinions and our advice. We like it best when we have helped them, then get to see the final project. It really shows us that they have listened to what we have to say, and that they have taken our opinions seriously.

“Our thoughts and opinions matter when it comes to decisions that involve us.”

The Children’s Council gives a voice to those that don’t always have one. Our voice matters! We might be young, but we have had to grow up really fast. If you feel confident and if you know yourself, then don’t be afraid to speak up. Your thoughts and opinions are just as good, and maybe even better, than a lot of people’s. Most importantly, don’t forget this: “You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to take it seriously.”

Check out the video from last year’s UN Day of The Child: