I feel like we can make a difference by Clara Gray

Posted on November 22, 2019

I think feelings are the most important part of humanity and I think that we need to be more aware of how our actions make ourselves and others feel. I’ll start.

Clara did a Tedx Talk earlier this month about investment in children, young people, and participation

This is how I feel when I am invested in:

I feel proud when I’m chatting with children who are plotting how they are going to change the world. When they demonstrate their open-mindedness that older generations can only dream of. When I take a step back and know that they are in full control, and are in the safest hands – which are their own. When they get fired up and the debate gets intense – where they feel safe to disagree and challenge norms and each other and me. When their successes are celebrated. I feel proud.

I feel empowered when I’m standing on a stage in front of a room full of people talking about my passions. When the eyes are on me and I’ve picked my words carefully. When I feel the nerves are kicking in and the adrenaline is coursing but I know I can do it anyway. When I take time for a breath and look out at the audience and know that they are waiting for me and are listening. I feel empowered.

I feel respected when I am asked questions and spoken to in a manner than mirrors my age. When the questions are critical but my opinions are not dismissed. When what I’ve done isn’t just ‘impressive for someone my age’ but is just impressive. When I’m entrusted to make my own decisions about how something will look and have the chance to bring my ideas into practice. I feel respected.

I feel at home when I’m speaking to adults who support me. When I’m in an environment where my creativity can flourish and my ideas grow wings. When I can be honest and open and unapologetically myself because others are doing the same. When I can relax knowing that I am safe and will be looked after. I feel at home.

I feel like I can do anything when I’m walking alongside my peers at a march, my face sore from grinning, my arms aching from holding my banner aloft, but my heart; my heart is soaring. When the shivers go down my back, and I feel the passion and the power and the rightful indignation surrounding me. When I know what we want and when we want it and that that time is now. I feel like I can do anything.

However …

I also feel guilty, when I know that there are millions of children who don’t experience these feelings, when I know that they are falling through the gaping cracks in our systems. When the same young people – like me – get the life-changing opportunities that all children deserve. When I know that my luck and my privilege mean that those more vulnerable, disengaged, or unsupported are missing out. Missing out on feeling proud and empowered and respected and at home. Missing out on feeling like they can do anything. I feel guilty.

But…I feel like we can make a difference. When we can work harder to invest in children and young people in the present, as full rights holders within society. When we work together to tackle barriers to participation like disability, geography, income and everything else. When we start now, changing the systems to empower the youngest children to know their rights and be involved in decision-making. When we grow our partnerships, our trust, our empathy. I feel like we can make a difference.

Now it’s your turn.

Clara is a ProjectScotland volunteer on the Sustainable Development Goals project. She is a massive advocate for children’s rights and does a lot of work around that including a recent TEDx talk which covered themes around investment in children and young people and participation.