Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, visited Larne last week as part of a series of visits she is making as she comes to the end of her eight-year term in office.
She visited Roddensvale School to hear from young people about what has changed for them over the past few years, and to hear any concerns they have now.
The feedback will help the Commissioner develop the final messages she wants to leave for government, and all those who can influence change for children and young people.
Patricia Lewsley Mooney said: “Listening to and acting upon what children in Northern Ireland told me has been central to my role as Commissioner for Children and Young people.
“My staff and I have met with over 40,000 children and young people.
“The issues they raised guided the projects we undertook. They informed our research, our advice, and our challenge to government on areas such as health, education, justice and participation.
“My team supported over 3,000 children and young people through my casework service. This not only influenced positive change for them but for thousands of other children and young people.
“A society that prioritises children’s rights is one thatwants to protect, support, respect and value them.
“It’s a society where all children and young people are allowed to flourish and are supported to reach their full potential.
“I continue to be concerned that too many children are living in poverty and are being negatively stereotyped, too many are being exploited and too many are being denied the rights that they are entitled to.”
On her hopes for the future, the Children’s Commissioner said, “Much has been achieved, much is being carried forward as I speak, but much more needs to be done in the future to make children’s and young people’s rights a reality.
“My hope is that the Northern Ireland Executive, Ministers, MLAs and Councilors can build on what has been achieved and work towards implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Northern Ireland law.
“Most importantly, I hope they will listen to and act on what local children and young people in the Larne area say.”
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People was established in 2003 by the Assembly and Parliament to: “safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people”.