Today, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, TD, launched the COVISION research project to help children and their communities around the world adjust to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
Funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council, the project will explore the creative and innovative ways children have been responding to changes during the pandemic, and how their initiatives may help other children, particularly addressing their sense of safety, calm, hope, self-belief and connectedness.
The research team – which includes academics from UCD, Monash University, Australia, Ming Chuan University, Taiwan, Fluminense Federal University, Brazil, and the Universities of Alberta (Canada), Auckland (New Zealand), Edinburgh (Scotland), Maryland (US) and Melbourne (Australia), as well as national partners Children’s Health Ireland and the office of the Ombudsman for Children – will explore strategies in the home and community, where children’s creative and innovative responses have helped them and their friends and families adjust to changes caused by the pandemic.
It will also look at how children’s actions may affect the ability of others in their community to adjust to changes, thereby allowing children to contribute to building community resilience during the pandemic and beyond.
For example, in countries around the world, children have impacted their local communities with public art displays including chalk pictures on pavements, paintings on stones in public parks, and poems, drawings and messages in the windows of their homes.
Launching the event, Minister O’Gorman said: “I am delighted to launch this significant initiative which aims not only to enhance the wellbeing of children and young people in the face of pandemic, but which also recognises the important contribution they make in their communities and families in helping to adjust to these challenges. This project will benefit children and their communities all over the world and it is heartening to see children and young people considered partners in the research, using the benefit of their creativity to co-design the research outputs, just as their creativity impacts and benefits society.”
Also speaking at the launch and partner on the project, Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon said: “The Ombudsman for Children’s Office encourages and promotes the inclusion of children at all levels. We want to hear from children and we want their views to be considered by decision makers. The COVISION Research Project is an embodiment of this approach, exploring how children have coped, or in many cases not coped, with the Covid-19 pandemic. The importance of their words and their input to this project will be wide-reaching and is something every adult in power should pay heed to.
“The initiative to bring together such a wide range of partners, and to gather the views and opinions of the children from every corner of the globe, is vital to helping each nation plan better and to dream bigger for our children. There is phenomenal expertise from Ireland, Brazil, Australia, US, Canada, Scotland, Taiwan and New Zealand and that means that what comes out of this research will represent a United Nations of opinions from children.”
Leading the international collaboration, Dr Suja Somanadhan from UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems said: “The COVISION project seeks toenhance the wellbeing of children during and after the pandemic and promote a range of positive community responses.By recognising childrenas a group withrightsof equalvalue to those of adults and agents for promoting change, the COVISION project willharness their creative and innovative expertise to co-design and co-producepractical interventions.”
The global project is the first of its kind to investigate children and young people’s perspective through the collection of their reflections on creative outlets and processes as a result of and related to Covid-19 experiences. Children and young people aged 10-17 years of age from anywhere in the world are eligible to participate in the study.
All of the outputs from the project will be co-designed with the children and young people through participatory workshops to reflect their needs and priorities and to create accessible communications, including video, animation and comic strips.
Findings from the project will be made available through a website and a range of dissemination strategies coordinated through national and international research partners and networks so that children and communities around the world can benefit, particularly in economically disadvantaged regions.