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Becoming a citizen

Isabella Franceschini | Italy

ITA, Bologna, Castel San Pietro Terme, June 6th, 2019. At the end of the assembly Michelle is about to go out the Adult City Council.Michelle has a pure, positive outlook on life that sweeps away the grey stereotype of older, often self-interested politicians. She wants to take part in the fight against plastic pollution and one of her idols is Boyan Slat, the young 25-year-old Dutch inventor and entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of ‘The Ocean Cleanup’ that develops advanced systems to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Michelle is obviously hugely inspired by the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who she considers special not only for what she says and does but also in the way she speaks to the world’s most powerful politicians.

13-year-old Michelle is one of the youngest Mayors in Italy.

In 1997, a Parliament law allowed for the participation of children in political bodies through Children’s Municipal Councils, which are organized in the same way as any City Council. The citizens of the future together with their educators, who are part of this project, can develop ideas, exchange approaches and debate freely in compliance with the democratic rules. Michelle and her friends learn about integration, tolerance, diversity, and equality. This is not the divisive politics of the left and the right, but the politics of productive debate.

A knowledge of the core values of a democratic country is essential to all citizens. Michelle was elected as Deputy Mayor at the age of 10 and as Mayor in 2019 in Castel San Pietro Terme, near Bologna. The town is one of the only 183 Municipalities with a Children’s Council out of the 7.954 Italian cities.

The Children's Municipal Council resulted from the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed on November 20th, 1989 in NewYork.

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
(Franklin Delano Roosevelt)



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