Child parliaments set standard for activism

Seventeen-year-old K. Thayal Nayaki is the Prime Minister of Nehru Child Parliament in MGR Nagar in Chennai.

She, along with her cabinet of ministers, has rescued several child labourers in the past few years.

“Sometimes, one of our ministers or members will receive messages from children who are forced to work.

In such cases, we pass on the information to Nesakkaram, an NGO, which rescues them with assistance from local authorities,” she says.

From stopping child marriages to creating awareness on child rights, Nesakkaram-SEEDS (Street Elfins Education and Development Society) has grown to comprise 25 children’s parliaments across the city in the last 25 years.

To celebrate this, Nesakkaram held ‘Children Parliament Mela 2015’ on March 15.

T.U. Nathan, co-ordinator of Nesakkaram says, “This aim of creating children parliament groups is to help them address issues in their area and also prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

In Triplicane, for instance, we managed to remove a wine shop that was causing problems for the children.”

Similarly, 16-year-old Baby Shalini, in her stint as the Prime Minister of Vinmeen Child Parliament group, ensures her neighbourhood remains clean.

“I call for a meeting every month and review the status of various departments. For instance, my health minister has to monitor the area and make sure it is free of garbage. If trash begins to accumulate, we contact Nesakkaram who in turn will call Corporation staff to clean up the area,” says Baby Shalini, who wants to become a chartered accountant.

A few years ago, as Prime Minister of S.M. Nagar Child Parliament, M. Guru stopped a child marriage in his neighborhood.

“My classmate, who was also my neighbor, was just 16 and her family tried to force her into marrying her uncle as he was growing old whereas she wanted to at least complete her schooling. We somehow stopped her marriage and now, she is pursuing her under graduation,” he said.


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