It was a warm, sunny day at Caux. Then, the clock hit 16:30. Everything fell quiet. Silent dining hall, abandoned hub. The CATS detectives could only twist and turn their whiskers, deep in thought and shocked by this turn of events. Where had all the people gone? 3 words were enough to solve the mystery: Project Matchmaking Session.
Indeed, while the rest of the palace was entangled in a spell of silence, the Main Hall was sparkling with sound. From the faraway Uruguay to nearby Poland, incredible minds gathered together yesterday afternoon to present their magic tricks for changing our world for the better and revealing the other face of youth. “The Other Face of Youth” or, “La Otra Cara de la Juventud”; That was the name of one of the many projects that CATS participants had the privilege to discover during the Project Matchmaking. Fighting against societal stereotypes and using the well-known format of the talent show, this project from Uruguay attempts to show that children and adolescents are capable of much more than people often bargain for. And they were not alone in this seemingly never-ending, mountainous path to child participation in all aspects of life.
Walking past the flipchart of the “My Time” project-based in the UK and providing support for the children of prisoners- our eyes could not help but be fixated on a very specific quote: “With children, for children”. You turn your gaze ever so slightly to the left, and you become a witness to this quote in action. 10 year old Matthew stands tall and proud as he expresses himself with a clarity and passion that is rarely seen outside CATS. “I want to help people with learning disabilities. I know people who have dyslexia and I want to try and help them.” In this desire to help others, the Project Ambassadors in the Matchmaking Session found people who shared their vision and ambitions.
“People here think in a similar way”, notes a member of the Polish delegation, “We should support each other so that the potential in this room does not get lost.” On the table next to them, copies of “Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project”, dedicated to a Polish social worker and humanitarian who saved Jewish children from Nazi persecution during World War II. With such people as role models and lighthouses to guide the way, the projects of the Matchmaking Session all look towards the future, filled to the brim with positivity and determination, despite the inevitable issues that might come up along the way. At the face of these issues and difficulties, our participants did not give up. “I’ve got an idea” someone is heard saying. ” Did you try crowdfunding?” is mentioned as one of the Project Ambassadors brings up the topic of funding and gaining the trust of donors.
Learning from each other’s experiences, the participants were inspired and given a refreshing take on their projects. Following this incredible brainstorming, idea-sharing, confidence- boosting, creativity- inducing session, we are excited to see what our participants will do when they go down the mountain. To wrap this up, let’s remind ourselves of the CATS Asia motto: “Because a safe world for children is a sound world for all”.
In todays interview, Arshad and Zgjim from MEOW got the chance to speak with Nichole and Soleil, two American teenage activists who were at CATS for the very first time. Both of them come from a background of student and humanitarian activism and form part of multiple organisations which work to prevent violence against children.
Soleil described her work at Students Demand Action, a group set up following the tragic Parkland Shooting in Florida earlier this year. SDA works with other anti-gun violence groups to bring about change in the American legislation in order to create a safer environment for school children throughout the country.
Nichole then described the anti-bullying organisation she founded a while back with a few of her school mates. PEACE, standing for Promoting Empathy Awareness and Courage for Everyone is a youth-led group which mediated discussions on bullying and ways to confront it.
They also discussed several other things, including the challenges their organisations face.
CATS 2018: Interview with Guest Speakers: Nichole Ruiz and Soleil Doering
Follow the interview of two young Gun Control activists, Nichole Ruiz and Soleil Doering, by members of the CATS team, Arshad Mozumder and Zgjim Gashi!Posted by Initiatives of Change Switzerland on Saturday, August 4, 2018
After the free afternoon, all those who made their way back to the castle could follow the music to the Games Room, where a group of people, young and young at heart were enjoying a good session of Karaoke. From the classic songs of Grease and Titanic to Stromzy’s rap and French pop, all the genres were catered for, ensuring a night which passed way too quickly!
Disco Night up next, on Friday evening, an event organised by MEOW. The vibe in the theatre was truly energising, with non-stop music for more than 2 hours after dinner. A music suggestion sheet had been hanging in the Hub all week for song suggestion and other recommendations during the disco itself were also considered.
Finally, the much-awaited CATS Got Talent took place during our final evening together. Talent from all over the world was displayed on the Caux stage. Children, young people and adults danced, sang, acted or improvised. There were also a couple of young musicians who entertained us with little piano pieces. Talent Night ended with the CATS dance, choreographed by Rupal (Kitten Co-Ordinator) and Arshad (MEOW Co-Ordinator) which saw all the organising team and helpers dancing to the rhythm of ‘Colours’ by Jason Derulo.
After a week of pre-planned and time-tabled activities, Saturday was an open day. For the first time ever, CATS saw the use of ‘Open Space’ technique, which Luis introduced once everybody was gathered for the Together Time in the main hall.
During the space of the day, individuals, groups or delegations had the chance to run an impromptu session on anything related to the theme. A great deal of people volunteered to share their knowledge, projects or idea, and a full day plan was set up, with 3 different time slots and more than six sessions running simultaneously.
It was a pleasure going around each session, some facilitated by Kittens who shared their inventions, experiences or problem-solving skills (like how to mediate arguments with siblings!). It was empowering to notice that many techniques and activities used throughout the week were skilfully incorporated into these sessions.
Others ran sessions describing the struggles they face in their daily life, their experiences with violence and how they work to #endviolenceagainstchildren. A few others described their work and the works of their respective organisations, while individual interviews were carried out in another space. Sessions on flower arrangements and connecting to nature also took place.