Helping children’s voices be heard over the airwaves
Naida still remembers the first time she spoke on the radio. She was 12 years old and very scared. “I was shy,” says Naida. “I had trouble speaking into the microphone knowing people were hearing me. I was afraid I’d say something wrong.”
Naida is one of more than 50 children who participated in a CCFC-supported program started in 2011 with the help of child sponsors. The initiative gives children in Paraguay an opportunity to produce a weekly 60-minute morning program on a local radio station. The real-world experience encourages children to improve their communication skills in Spanish (many children speak Guarani as their first language), contribute ideas, and express their views on topics, such as teen pregnancies, substance abuse, and child rights – a rare opportunity in rural communities.
Parents and schools have seen a huge change in the children participating, including a boost in their confidence.
“Naida was quiet before she started the program. We spoke very little. Now, she keeps talking!” says Naida’s mom, laughing. “We are happy because it will serve her well in the future.” Gladys, a local school director, shares, “Any shyness they had is gone, and that makes the children more involved in school activities.”
The program also helps some children, like Naida, discover a new talent. In 2013, the 15-year-old started her own radio program, Tropical Saturday, on a larger local station. She plays music and shares her views and experiences.
“Luckily, I can continue doing what I love,” says Naida. “I love radio. People listen to me. It motivates me when people are turned on to issues and get involved.”
“My program is ‘Made for People.’ It gives listeners a chance to talk. When people send me messages on topics, it makes me realize that I am heard.” — Naida, 15 (centre)
ChildVoice Fall/Winter 2015