Food and fairness: Children’s Human Rights in action

Thursday 29 June 2023
A group of primary school-aged children hold certificates to celebrate their participation in a research project to understand food and fairness from their perspectives. The children are wearing lab coats and have various props with them.
Meet the young investigators involved in the “Food and Fairness” project.

The University of St Andrews School of Medicine and Children’s Parliament have been collaborating to understand food and fairness from the perspective of children living in Fife, using a children’s rights approach. Children’s rights are human rights and include a right to fairness, a right to health and a right to be heard.  Children’s Parliament have been pioneering this approach since 1996, with researchers at the University acknowledging the need for such an approach and looking to learn from Children’s Parliament to ensure future work is rights based.

Adopting a children’s rights approach, the team have been working with primary schools in Glenrothes.  Twelve children from P5/6 classes have taken on the role of investigators, exploring a variety of topics related to food and fairness over two months.  Topics included food and me, access to food, and food and the environment. The young investigators conducted research with their peers in class and at break time, as well as leading and participating in workshops to explore these topics further. The work culminated in an event at Rothes Halls where the children shared their work with key stakeholders working on food, health and inequalities in Fife, including NHS Fife, Fife Council, Scottish Food Coalition and Food for Fife. Magic Breakfast, the charity campaigning for free breakfast in all schools in Scotland, was also represented at the event, which was attended by the children’s families and teachers.

Dr Andrew James Williams (Project lead from University of St Andrews) said ‘We know that food is vital for our health, especially while growing and learning. Working with the children and Children’s Parliament we have heard about the role food plays in their lives and what they want to know and understand about food.  These insights are helping us to develop research that supports children to live happy, healthy and safe lives.’

Kate Cuddihy (Children’s Parliament Programme Manager) added “In both the Food and Fairness project with the University of St Andrews and other projects Children’s Parliament have been engaged with, children are sharing the same message:  food needs to be accessible and affordable for families.” 

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