Promoting active citizenship amongst the youngest - Children's elections in Finland
Active citizenship can already be taught at an early stage. This was impressively proven by JCI Finland, who - prior to the European elections - initiated the project "Lasten Vaalit" ("Junior elections") that aimed to give children an understanding of the process of voting and plant the seed for becoming active citizens.
More concretely, during the European elections in Finland on 26 May, "Lasten Vaalit" gave children the opportunity to vote in special children’s elections. However, the candidates were not political figures, but fictitious cartoon characters without any ties to political parties. Children could cast their votes at their own dedicated polling stations that were located close to actual polling stations, so that families could go vote at the same time.
The goal of the project was to make voting an undertaking for the whole family and therefore also encourage adults to use their right to vote. Furthermore, by creating positive emotions and memories of voting, the project promotes the development of active citizenship among children and adults, encourages the communication on community-related topics and fosters the intergenerational dialogue.
Initially, JCI Finland started the model on a small scale, but ended up having 160 polling stations for children all around the country. Due to their enormous success "Lasten Vaalit" has been featured by Finish local and national media and their project manager Elna Jokinen was interviewed in a TV morning show of the Finish National Broadcasting company YLE.
"Lasten Vaalit" sets an amazing example for educating children about the importance of political participation and actively engaging in democratic processes by playfully introducing them to the process of voting and making elections a fun activity for the whole family!