More than 150 delegates from across 42 European countries were in Malta to tackle the urgent issues of child poverty and social inclusion as part of the Eurochild Network Convention, held on the 2nd and 3rd July 2024.
The Eurochild convention returned to Malta after 17 years, a recognition of the great efforts of the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society that has been championing children’s rights for the past 10 years.
Eurochild — the largest network of children’s rights organisations in Europe, representing 211 organisations and individuals working with and for children — is presided by MFWS founder and chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.
Read more about the convention here

Child poverty is very real and our goal is to provide tangible input to European decision-makers to address the obstacles that trample on their rights to food, an education, access to health and safe environment, among others.

You cannot have sustainable communities as long as child poverty persists — this merely leads to conflict.

H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca

 

WORKSHOP: Designing and playing the snakes and ladders of children’s lives at risk of poverty and social exclusion

 

This workshop was held by the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society at the Eurochild Convention, led by Dr Bernadine Satariano, who is a Health Geographer, holds a PHD in Child and Family Wellbeing and is also a supporting team member of the Foundation.

Brief description

According to Eurostat, 20 million children in Europe are at risk of poverty and social exclusion (Eurochild, 2023).  Poverty, social exclusion, unequal access to healthcare, poor environmental living conditions and educational inequities are the underlying causes of disparities among children in Europe.  On the other hand resources such as affordable and adequate housing conditions, public safety, available healthy and nutritious food, safe play spaces and positive features of social capital in the neighbourhood community, can positively impact on a child’s wellbeing.

In order to contribute to the European Commission’s initiative the ‘Child Guarantee’,  this workshop with the use of the game Snakes and Ladders enables participants model the upstream indicators.  Participants discuss and design the ‘ladders’ that enable diverse children to find their route out of poverty together with the determinant barriers/ ‘snakes’ that are blocking the routes for poor and minority children living in Europe to move out of poverty.

This workshop highlights how games can facilitate unprecedented discussions when adopting the role of a child living in poverty and social exclusion due to for example parental unemployment, disability, refugee status or incarceration.  Furthermore playing this designed game itself enables the participants to see and understand the journey of such a typical deprived child within a European context.

Objectives

This workshop enables participants coming from different European countries to map the possible barriers and buffers that diverse children living or at risk of poverty and social exclusion encounter across the childhood life course.

This workshop aims to generate a mapping exercise, depicting the diverse European landscape of poverty and exclusion.  It also serves as an opportunity to highlight the diverse initiatives being taken across Europe to address poverty and social exclusion.  Furthermore it is a learning space and a sharing exercise of best practices and potential collaboration.

This workshop raises awareness and facilitates the sharing of knowledge and effective policies that contribute to the various children’s needs to move out of poverty and not feel excluded in their community environment.

This workshop encourages creative thinking and collaborative problem-solving to address the root causes of child poverty and social exclusion.

This workshop provides participants with a tangible tool (modified snakes and ladders game) to use in educational and advocacy efforts across Europe.

Activity

Games are a medium that can translate research findings to researchers, policymakers, leaders in communities and others in an unconventional way and share knowledge and communication through play. Furthermore, games can also be used as an educational tool and disseminate knowledge on the social determinants of children’s health and wellbeing in a fun and entertaining manner.

The game Snakes and Ladders has been chosen since the participants have a likely prior familiarity with the game, and are likely able to relate the movements of the game with the life scenario of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion.    The board game is based on the social determinants of health and will highlight the impact of their socio-economic status, gender, and race, together with other macro and micro determinants including their access to health, educational attainment, housing and living conditions, access to nutritious food, housing and neighbourhood environmental conditions on children’s health and wellbeing.  The participant players will take a character profile of a child who is living or at risk of living in poverty and social exclusion and move through the life course of this person, highlighting and navigating how the various determinants of health and wellbeing may act as barriers or buffers to this character’s child life.  The idea is to help participants make abstract concepts such as equity more concrete, as well as engaging participants in analytical discussions on different deprived child case scenarios.   Whilst playing the game, the participants will reflect on the policies that are needed to support children move slowly out of the cycle of poverty.