CATS (Children as Actors for Transforming Society) provides a space where children, young people and adults live, learn and work together as equal partners. It is described as a powerful learning experience which will lead to children developing their expertise as advocates and adults being equipped with cutting-edge ideas and practices on child participation, and together understanding the contribution that each can make.
It aims to be a platform to inspire others to share difficulties, promote inclusion, tackle obstacles, and show how collaboration is essential to creating a better world.
Every summer, a ‘CATS Conference’ welcomes children, young people and adults to take part in a dynamic, experiential, inclusive and fun programme co-designed and co-led by children and adults. Participants from a range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds stay in a castle in the mountains above Montreux, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva. There are many ‘learning spaces’ and workshops each day where participants can enjoy activities designed to help them think about, listen to, and discuss issues that matter to them.
In 2017 Alex Smyth (pictured above with her younger sister Kyra) and Olivia Quarless (Liv) went to CATS and bravely told their stories in the Human Library and were then featured in a CATS ‘special’ – a video interview about how the experience changed them.
This summer, for the 2018 programme , Liv will return as a ‘MEOW’ (Youth) Leader – a huge achievement as these fully funded MEOW places are highly sought after and only young people who show strong leadership abilities are chosen.
In addition, we ran a GoFundMe campaign for Alex (13) to return and this time, to be accompanied by sister Kyra (10). Thanks especially to our volunteer Paul Courtney who was our biggest donor.
Alex and Kyra bravely told their story of having a father in prison in the BBC Documentary ‘Prison, My Parents and Me’ (Nov 2016) and since then have been motivated to help children who are facing adversities around the world.
See more at about the campaign here.