A Lifetime Opportunity!
My name is Kassandra Beltran and I am 17 years old. I am half Cypriot and half Mexican and really interested in the area of Children’s rights. I have been working in this field for approximately three years and these years have been the best of my life so far.
It all started with me becoming the president of Cyprus Children’s Parliament for the district of Nicosia. From there I went on to become a member of the Children Advisory Group for Eurochild’s biannual Conferences in 2016. Then I finally being a part of the MEOW team, a team of children and young people that support and help with organising the annual CATS (Children as Actors for Transforming Society) Forum.
CATS has now been running for five years, providing its participants with an amazing example of how society would function in a perfect world, examples of how participation should work and a platform that enables children and adults to work together to show how they are both vital members of society and how they can achieve marvelous things when working together.
From the year 2015 a new internal group was created within the CATS structure, in order to enhance and further empower children’s participation. This was MEOW. A team of five people below the age of 18 and five over eighteen, from all across the EU. MEOW has one purpose, to give an opportunity to other children to experience the CATS Forum in the best way possible.
We have been together for almost two years now and it doesn't feel like a team anymore… we can now call it a FAMILY. We aspire to help children learn about their rights and to find their voice and power in a society that instead of building them up and giving them a push to succeed, tends to minimise their voice and value.
And now we are here. Fully committed to the CATS life! It is absolutely amazing to see how much work is being put into this Forum and that it all comes down to just the one week. Months and months of preparation meetings, Skype calls, emails, power points and all that jazz!
Our meetings are very packed and productive, since we only meet in person three to four times a year. At first we talk about the theme that we want to follow for the year to come. We analyse it, we talk about how we could elaborate it, what activities we could incorporate, the people we could invite and so on. After that, the fun part comes.
We divide the tasks and start to work on our projects, of course in groups of adults and children! This process takes a lot of time as we allow ourselves to research about our activities, the philosophy of them and what could potentially be done. This is especially interesting because all of our creativity and inspiration comes out and our excitement for the Forum starts to rise again.
For me, CATS has allowed me to grow as a person. It has taught me how to work more efficiently in larger teams and has definitely helped my speech skills and my confidence around others. It is an opportunity of a lifetime. The things you learn; the people you meet; the experiences you gain, are parts of your life that will stay with you forever.
CATS has given me the opportunity to grow in ways that neither my school nor society would have allowed me to…and I owe a big thank you and a huge hug to the people that have supported me through this experience and of course the ones that have been making it happen for so many years Thank you!
Kassandra is one of two young people that Eurochild supports to be members of the MEOW Team, and thereby the CATS Core Team.
The CATS Forum is held every summer in Caux, Switzerland. It is a great opportunity for all generations to learn and grow together as individuals. The Forum is open to people of all ages and from all backgrounds. The theme of the Forum this year is How to reach an inclusive world.
Registration for the CATS Forum 2017 (29 July – 4 August) is now open. Further information can be found here.