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#COVIDTales

This young (COVID) life

Growing up in a time of crisis

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About


This project explores children and young people’s experiences, opinions, and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and related government responses. The pandemic brought changes to their daily lives, social spaces, relationships, and inner worlds.
   
The research sheds light on life since the beginning of the pandemic and how it has affected children and adolescents. It provides ideas and recommendations on managing similar crises in the future. The project has collected the words, drawings, and photos of more than 1,000 children across 6 different countries between 2021 and 2023.

Research Objectives

The research across the different countries sought to answer two questions:

  1. How do children and youth (aged 10–19 years) perceive and experience the COVID-19 situation? How has it affected them? How have they coped with the health crisis and associated measures to contain the pandemic? What are the key issues from their perspective?
  2. What are children’s ideas and proposals about: (a) responses to the current situation; and (b) how situations like this could be handled better in the future to ensure that children’s rights are protected?

Project Map

Country Reports


Children and young people across the world have learnt important life lessons from the COVID-19 experience. These focused country reports give insight into their experiences and perceptions of pandemic.

 


Life In Colours

This report recounts the journeys of a group of adolescents through the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, one of the first countries to be affected by the virus. It is the first product of an in-depth qualitative study that aims to understand the experiences of children and young people from their point of view and through their words.

The data for this project were collected online between February and June 2021 with 114 participants between the ages of 10 and 19, who attended lower and upper secondary schools in 16 regions of Italy, and included children and young people who identify as LGBTQI+, unaccompanied and separated children, and adolescents from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Life in Colours

 


It’s Difficult to Grow Up in an Apocalypse

According to children and youth in Canada, what were the negative and positive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives? How did they experience changes in their relationships; daily schedule; time at home; use of technology; or feelings of anger, worry, loneliness or gratitude? How were these experienced by marginalized groups, including LGBTQ+ and Indigenous children and youth?

To date, research on Canadian children’s and youth’s experiences during the pandemic has lacked a broad exploration of their own perspectives. This qualitative study, however, was informed by three child and youth advisory teams with a total of 74 young people aged 10 to 19.

It’s Difficult to Grow Up in an Apocalypse

 

 


La Pandemia a Través de los Ojos de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes En Chile

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a crisis at multiple levels, putting at risk children's ability to exercise their rights. The objective of this study was to generate evidence on the experiences, perceptions and opinions of children and adolescents about the pandemic and Chile's response to it.

This qualitative study includes the experiences of 102 children from Chile, aged 10 to 17.

La Pandemia a Través de los Ojos de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes En Chile

 

 


Expériences, perceptions et opinions des enfants et des adolescents sur la pandémie de COVID-19 à Madagascar

The consequences of COVID-19 have been far-reaching, and virtually every country in the world has been affected with varying degrees of severity. Madagascar was no exception. The pandemic had major economic and social downturns, with particular consequences to children and adolescents, considered to be more vulnerable to shocks as significant as the coronavirus.

This qualitative study includes the experiences of 665 children from Madagascar, aged 10 to 17.

Expériences, perceptions et opinions des enfants et des adolescents sur la pandémie de COVID-19 à Madagascar

 

 


E ne e le bophelo bo sa tloaeleheng

This participatory study, conducted with youth in Lesotho, provides a profound understanding of their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. It sheds light on how they navigated the challenges and changes brought about by this global crisis, revealing insights into their adaptability, resilience, and the crucial role of community support.

The study highlights how children and adolescents in Lesotho adapted to new governmental regulations and diligently followed preventive measures like mask-wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing. Their adherence intensified with direct experiences of the virus within their communities.

Children and adolescents showed remarkable resilience, participating actively in income generation and developing coping strategies for stress and boredom.

E ne e le bophelo bo sa tloaeleheng

 

Methodology


This multi-country project followed a qualitative research methodology and was  underpinned by a series of principles

 

This young (COVID) life is a qualitative research project carried out with children and young people in 6 countries. Each individual country project adopted some or all the following participatory methods:  

  • Focus group discussions
  • Individual in-depth interviews
  • Asynchronous contributions (children and young people sent their contributions by email)
  • Photovoice
  • Drawings and art-based methods.  

In Italy and Canada, the two pilot countries, the research team was supported by young advisory boards of children and young people who collaborated to design the research approach, define the sampling strategy, analyze the data as well as disseminate and communicate the research results (see this brief for more information).  

Across contexts, more than 1,000 children and young people were involved in the project. By design the project followed the principle of inclusivity and as possible involved specific groups of children:   

Italy: Children in middle and high schools; children with low economic background; unaccompanied and Separated Children (first generation migrants); LGBTQI+ young people. 

Canada:  Participants identified as girls/women (46%); boys/men (49%); gender neutral, gender fluid or agender (6%); LGBTQ+ (16%); First Nations, Inuit or Métis (5%); racialized (35%); having a disability (7%); and living in residential or foster care settings (8%). 

Madagascar: Children in rural, suburban and urban areas involved through schools. A few out-of-school children were also interviewed. A few children with disabilities were involved although the study design did not target them specifically.  

Lesotho: Children from ultra-poor households; children with disability. Herd boys and children left behind were involved although the study design did not target them specifically. 

Chile: Children and adolescents with disabilities, migrants, children from indigenous peoples, residents in environmental sacrifice zones, water scarcity zones, under State protection in specialized protection residences, and those belonging to the LGBTIQ+ community. 

Indonesia: Children in (private and public) institutions; street children; children with disability; orphans; children in conflict with the law.  

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My (young) COVID life: Noé

Noé worked as an intern with the Social and Economic Policy Analysis team at the UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight between September 14th, 2022, and March 14th, 2023. Here they talk about their experience of COVID-19 as a young person navigating university life in the context of lockdown measures I turned 21 in March 2020, around the time when the COVID-19 lockdowns were set up across Europe. I was studying in the Netherlands, and before the lockdown I had a very social life. I often met up with friends, we had dinner together almost every evening and organised activities such as movie nights, sports, and evenings at open mics and cafes with live performances.  When I first started hearing about COVID-19, I was not very worried. I believed it was like a flu or the seasonal cold. Yes, we had to be careful, but I did not expect the situation to reach global proportions. But with time, as the information got more alarming and governments started to implement regulations, I began to worry and felt confused. I wondered how my life as a student would change, and how serious the situation was going to be.  Little was known about the virus in the beginning.  Gradually I became more interested (but also glued to) the incidence plots made available on online. I looked at the numbers every day and monitored the COVID-19 “risk zones” in cities. It became very important for me to have access to information and understand what was happening.  In this blog I explore my experiences of COVID-19 through 3 aspects of my life that changed because of the pandemic and lockdown. Covid-19 and university studies "I found it difficult to physically separate my workspace and free time space and that made it challenging to detach from work at the end of the day"I began the semester on campus and was working on my bachelor’s thesis when the first lockdown measures were announced. As the number of COVID-19 cases increased, I moved out of the university campus and, like many international students, went back to my parents’ home in Belgium. I returned to campus, only for the last couple of weeks of the semester. Classes were gradually moved online, and it had not been easy to follow. I ended up spending most of my time sitting at my desk on the computer. I found it difficult to physically separate my workspace and free time space and that made it challenging to detach from work at the end of the day but also challenging to focus on work during the day. I ended up feeling less productive but also not able to fully enjoy my free time.  Online classes were also often less clear than in person. Some professors were new to the technology, and the quality of the classes and our interactions depended heavily on the internet connection. Mine was not always very good and so, like many other class participants, I kept my camera off. While this online format allowed for a lot of flexibility and proposed new ways to work, it also meant that now most study related activities happened on the computer, including group projects. Overall, I found the format less appealing and less engaging compared to in person classes. In these conditions, I found it more difficult to write my bachelor’s thesis. When we were still on campus, my friends and I would discuss our thesis topics, provide each other with feedback and advice, and share our experiences. During the lockdown, there were fewer possibilities for us to engage with each other. Instead, it became a solitary task. Looking back, I think it was difficult for me to adjust to spending more time alone; I felt less motivated and found myself circling in my own thoughts more often. Relationships with friends The lockdown added some distance between my friends and me. We could not meet as easily and kept in touch via WhatsApp and other social media platforms. But it is not always easy to stay in touch with friends on WhatsApp as it is a very “static” activity. Our ability to participate in sports and cultural activities was limited and communicating online with them only added to the screen time. I also spent more time doing individual activities, like watching movies, but also spent time on more ‘informative’ content such as online courses. I went on walks, almost every day, but after a while they became annoying and repetitive. It was interesting to have all this free time, I used it to sign up to many online classes that explored topics that I was not studying at university and gained new skills. But I would have preferred to stay connected with my friends.  The isolation was not easy. I relied on my friends at university – we often ate dinner together, went on cultural excursions, or simply walked around the city. They were great times to have new experiences but also to reflect on our learning and help with the completion of our assignments. On the other hand, I also learned to take time for myself and learned to use online conference tools as ways to reach out to friends and students who were far away. In a way, the transition to online work made the world a bit smaller, it became normal to (virtually) meet people across time zones and exchange online. I am not sure it is something that would have developed as much if we were not made to work online. (Re)learning to live at home with my family I spent most of the first lockdown with my family (that is January 2020 to June 2020), and it was a difficult adjustment. I was not used to sharing my living space anymore and had to adapt my rhythm and routines to my family’s. While it was nice to be able to spend more time together, there were also tensions between us. I think that we all suffered from the lack of interactions with our respective friends and the sudden pause in our sports, cultural and social life/activities. With time things got better, we learned to understand our frustrations and to develop a positive environment within the household. It was also a good opportunity to do more things together. For example, I taught my brother to play chess and learned more about my siblings' interests and wishes.  At home, we had a lot of (sometimes tense) discussions around the COVID-19 pandemic, the people most affected by it, and our friends who were ill or in quarantine. We also talked a lot about the lockdown rules, often questioning whether they made sense to us, and other key issues like the COVID-19 tracking apps, and the vaccines. The language used by government officials was strong and gave a sense of urgency, while there were also loud instances of opposition to the lockdown regulations. Keeping up with the news, I remember at times finding the information relayed stressful and anxiety inducing. I think my parents and siblings also felt anxious and confused. We wondered, as a family, when we would be able to return to normalcy, while not being sure that ‘normal’ would be possible again. The lockdowns continued in waves - a back and forth between alleviating restrictions, which allowed us to take a breath, and re-imposing them.  In September 2020, I moved to Sweden for my studies. Sweden had much fewer restrictions regarding social distancing, so it was nice to be able to return to a bit of normalcy. With time and the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, I felt as if I had regained my freedoms - traveling became easier, I could meet friends again, and culture became accessible. I noticed that I enjoyed my days more, I felt better, and I believed that I could achieve more. While COVID-19 is still present today, the sense of urgency around it has gone away. I was quick to return to my normal life (I wanted it as fast as possible). Today, I hardly think about the lockdown period. When I reflect upon my experience of COVID-19, I am still perplexed - a lot happened in that period, but at the same time it felt as though we were standing still for a year or two. I find it difficult to reflect on this period and I prefer to focus on what comes next, with a strong feeling that I would like to make up for the time lost during the pandemic.  ### This Young (COVID) Life is a project that explores children and young people’s experiences, opinions, and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and related government responses. The pandemic brought changes to their daily lives, social spaces, relationships, and inner worlds. Discover the microsite!
Why we need to champion
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Perché è importante ascoltare le voci di bambinə e ragazzə? Tre cose che abbiamo imparato parlando con loro di COVID-19 in Italia

Read this blog in English.Come ricercatori del centro di ricerca di UNICEF Innocenti, crediamo nell'importanza di ascoltare bambinə e ragazzə per informare i processi decisionali e le politiche pubbliche. In quest’ottica, abbiamo progettato una ricerca qualitativa per esplorare come gli adolescenti  hanno vissuto e stanno vivendo la pandemia di COVID-19. Il progetto è attualmente in corso in sei paesi del mondo – Italia, Canada, Madagascar, Lesotho, Indonesia e Cile – e mira a comprendere: Come bambinə e ragazzə vivono la pandemia, come si sentono;   Quali tematiche considerano cruciali da affrontare al fine di preservare il loro benessere in relazione alla pandemia;   Quali sono i loro suggerimenti a genitori, insegnanti, politici e a tutta la società adulta al riguardo.Come primo passo, abbiamo realizzato un progetto pilota in Italia, dove abbiamo parlato con 114 bambinə e ragazzə di età compresa tra 10 e 19 anni tra febbraio e giugno 2021. I partecipanti alla ricerca hanno condiviso pensieri, riflessioni, disegni, fotografie e diari per descrivere cosa significa crescere durante la pandemia di COVID-19.  Attraverso molteplici interazioni, abbiamo imparato a conoscere i  loro ricordi, le loro emozioni e le loro opinioni.  Tutte le conversazioni, gli scritti e i disegni hanno fatto eco a tre messaggi chiave:   Avere tempo libero è un fattore protettivo. É quindi fondamentale non sovraccaricare bambinə e ragazzə con eccessivi impegni scolastici per colmare il divario creatosi nell'apprendimento formale. Il discorso pubblico si concentra sulle opportunità di apprendimento perse a causa della didattica a distanza. I sondaggi che misurano i risultati di apprendimento degli studenti mostrano un peggioramento rispetto agli anni precedenti. Tuttavia, il nostro progetto di ricerca dimostra che bambinə e ragazzə apprezzano avere più tempo libero a disposizione e lo necessitano per elaborare le difficoltà delle loro vite appesantite da un'emergenza globale.  Riconoscere i contributi di bambinə e ragazzə, i loro sacrifici e ciò che hanno imparato durante la pandemia è un punto di partenza fondamentale per la pianificazione futura. Bambinə e ragazzə hanno avuto il tempo di riflettere su se stessɘ, di imparare dalla peculiare situazione che loro e le persone intorno a loro hanno vissuto e di crescere attraverso queste lezioni di vita e le loro riflessioni. Durante le crisi, le persone tendono a porsi domande esistenziali. Molti bambinə e ragazzə ci hanno detto che sentono di essere cambiatɘ e cresciutɘ affrontando i lockdown, l’apprendimento a distanza e il distanziamento sociale. Modificando i loro comportamenti, hanno contribuito alla salute e alla sicurezza collettiva, ma hanno dovuto sacrificare molte esperienze di vita e la loro "normalità" – come tutti gli altri.  Bambinə e ragazzə vogliono essere coinvolti ed essere parte dei processi decisionali. Dobbiamo ascoltarli. I partecipanti alla nostra ricerca hanno apprezzato il fatto di poter parlare di come si sentivano e di cosa pensavano. Sono rimasti sorpresi quando gli abbiamo chiesto di presentare raccomandazioni per i loro genitori, insegnanti, politici e per gli adulti in generale. Hanno condiviso buone idee che, se canalizzate bene e tempestivamente, potrebbero apportare cambiamenti significativi. Sono preoccupati per il loro futuro e per come le attuali risposte alla pandemia influenzeranno le loro vite. La maggior parte di loro non può ancora votare, ma vuole prendere parte ai processi decisionali. In poche parole, questa generazione di bambinə e ragazzə in Italia è sostanzialmente diversa dalle precedenti: hanno imparato in modo collettivo e come gruppo importanti lezioni di vita in relazione all'esperienza di pandemia di COVID-19.  Ad esempio, hanno spiegato di aver imparato a valorizzare l'importanza delle "piccole cose", agendo con responsabilità e cura nei confronti della propria comunità, e comprendendo l'importanza delle relazioni sociali. Hanno anche riflettuto molto su ciò che pensano possa rendere migliore il loro presente e il loro futuro. Se sostenuti e riconosciuti, saranno in grado di contribuire a ripensare la vita dopo la pandemia, in modo positivo e innovativo. Bambinə e ragazzə stanno già parlando, ma hanno bisogno di alleati. Genitori, insegnanti, comunità, ricercatori e politici possono svolgere un ruolo importante nel sostenerli, incoraggiarli e ascoltarli.Come possiamo noi adulti sostenere ed essere alleati di bambinə e ragazzə?  Guardando le opportunità, non solo le lacune. Non concentrandoci esclusivamente sulle perdite nell'apprendimento tradizionale ma tenendo in considerazione e facendo leva sugli altri apprendimenti portati dalla pandemia.“Durante questo periodo ho imparato che nulla è scontato, ho appreso l’importanza che racchiude un secondo, il peso di un abbraccio o di una stretta di mano, ho appreso che la vita è un soffio, dura talmente poco che non c’è tempo da sprecare, ho imparato a vivere secondo per secondo, minuto per minuto, come se fossero gli ultimi per potermi godere la vita al massimo, una vita degna, una vita che potrò raccontare ai miei nipoti quando sarò nonna.” (A, 15 anni) “Guardando indietro a questi mesi passati vedo una ragazza che ha oltrepassato numerosi ostacoli che sembravano quasi montagne, una ragazza che ha scoperto dei lati che non pensava di avere come la testardaggine e la forte determinazione che l'ha poi portata a numerose soddisfazioni. Vedo anche una ragazza che guarda la scuola con occhi diversi rispetto ad anni fa, è felice d’imparare, “scervellarsi” e ha voglia di dare il massimo. Penso anche di essere cambiata molto, soprattutto a livello di maturità, e spero di continuare sempre così, ascoltando me stessa, la mia mente ma soprattutto il mio cuore.” (S, 16 anni)  Riconoscendoli e ringraziandoli. Bambinə e ragazzə hanno fortemente contribuito alla salute e  alla sicurezza delle loro comunità. “Abbiamo rinunciato a molte cose ma abbiamo anche la consapevolezza di esserci rafforzati come persone e di aver dimostrato che anche noi adolescenti facciamo parte di una comunità (...) e che nel momento della difficoltà anche noi possiamo essere supporto agli adulti  pur continuando a sognare il nostro futuro.”  (G, scuola superiore)  Ascoltando quello che hanno da dire. Non dando per scontato di sapere a priori come si sentono e cosa è meglio per loro.   “I temi su cui la classe dirigente in Italia si dovrebbe focalizzare per garantire il benessere, presente e futuro, degli adolescenti, secondo me, sono legati alla loro libertà di vivere circondati dagli amici e dalla famiglia. Per questo non sarebbe una cattiva idea aumentare gli spazi verdi all’aperto, per permettere ai ragazzi di stare insieme e vicini in una zona con aria pulita e naturale, dove possono divertirsi e parlare senza troppe preoccupazioni.” (M, 15 anni)“Per quanto riguarda la nostra classe politica spero che questa epidemia abbia insegnato e fatto capire quanto la scuola deve essere un punto fermo per poter farci crescere in un mondo più sicuro e spero che in futuro il governo investa nella scuola in modo intelligente, consapevole, senza sprechi che tutta la nostra società andrà a pagare.” (G, scuola superiore)Come ricercatori, abbiamo  imparato molte cose parlando direttamente con bambinə e ragazzə e, ora più che mai, crediamo fermamente che tutti gli adulti dovrebbero ascoltarli e confrontarsi con loro come membri chiave della società. Ad esempio, lavorando a stretto contatto con bambinɘ e ragazzɘ nella primissima fase del processo di ricerca, abbiamo imparato a smantellare le nostre ipotesi su ciò che pensavamo fosse "migliore" dal punto di vista metodologico ed etico e abbiamo accolto possibilità nuove e non considerate che hanno dato un valore estremamente elevato al lavoro di ricerca. Durante la fase di analisi, abbiamo inoltre iniziato a notare che molti dei "personaggi della pandemia", creati collettivamente e disegnati dai partecipanti durante i focus group, erano volutamente genderless. In quel momento ci siamo resi conto che utilizzando metodi di ricerca creativa che permettono ai ragazzi di esprimersi appieno, possiamo sbloccare il potenziale di ricerca e ottenere più di quello che stavamo cercando. Ora siamo ansiosi di continuare ed espandere questo progetto per scoprire cosa hanno da dire bambinə e i ragazzə in altri contesti del mondo e per diventare un ponte tra le loro emozioni, pensieri e idee e i decisori politici. Seguite il nostro lavoro per ricevere informazioni sui prossimi risultati di ricerca.  Scopri di più su questo progetto e sugli studi correlati nel rapporto "Vite a Colori".    
Why we need to champion
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Why we need to champion children’s and young people’s voices: Three things we learned from speaking to them about COVID-19 in Italy

Leggi questo blog in italiano.As researchers at UNICEF Innocenti, we believe in the importance of listening to children and young people to inform decision-making and policies. For this reason, we designed a qualitative research project to explore how children and young people are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is currently running in six countries around the world – Italy, Canada, Madagascar, Lesotho, Indonesia, and Chile – and aims to understand:Children and young people’s experiences and feelings during the pandemic; The issues they consider important for their well-being in this context;   Their suggestions to parents, teachers, politicians, and all adults to put their wellbeing first.As a first step, we carried out a pilot project in Italy, where we talked to 114 children and young people aged 10-19 between February and June 2021. Our research participants shared thoughts, reflections, drawings, photographs, and diary entries to describe what it means to grow up during COVID-19. Through multiple interactions, we learned about their memories, emotions, and opinions.   All conversations, writings and drawings echoed three key messages:  Having free time is a protective factor. It is therefore key not to overburden children and young people with school workloads to fill the gap in formal learning. Public discourse focuses on the missed learning opportunities due to remote learning. Surveys measuring students’ learning outcomes show worse results compared to previous years. However, our research project shows that children and young people value and need free time to process the difficulties of their lives, worsened by a global emergency.Recognizing children’s and young people’s contributions, their sacrifices, and what they have learnt throughout the pandemic is a fundamental starting point for future planning. Children and young people have had the time to reflect about themselves, to learn from the peculiar situation they and the people around them have been experiencing, and to grow throughout these lessons and reflections. During crises people tend to ask themselves existential questions. Many children and young people told us they feel that they have changed and grown from dealing with lockdowns, remote learning, and social distancing. By modifying their behaviors, they contributed to collective health and safety, but they had to sacrifice many life experiences, and “normality” like everyone else.Children and young people want to be involved and be part of decision-making processes. We should listen to them. Participants in our research enjoyed talking about how they felt and what they think. They were surprised when asked to put forward recommendations for their parents, teachers, politicians, and for adults in general. They shared good ideas that, if well and quickly channeled, could make meaningful changes. They are concerned about their future and how current responses to the pandemic will affect their lives. Most of them cannot vote yet but they want to take part in decision-making processes.  In a nutshell, this generation of children and young people in Italy is different from the previous ones in a substantial way: they have collectively learnt important life lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic experience. For example, they explained that they learned to value the “little things,” act with responsibility and care vis-à-vis their community, and understand the importance of social relationships. They also often reflected on what they think can make their present and future better. If recognized and supported, they will be able to contribute to rethinking life after the pandemic, in a positive and innovative light.  Children and young people are already speaking out, but they need allies. Parents, teachers, communities, researchers, and politicians can play a major role in supporting, encouraging, and listening to them. How can we as adults, support and be allies to children and young people?  We can look at the opportunities, not just gaps. Do not focus solely on the losses in traditional learning and start thinking creatively about the new learnings the pandemic brought.    “In this period, I have learnt that nothing can be taken for granted. I have learnt the importance of a second, the weight of a hug or a handshake. I learnt that life is just a breath, it is so short that there is no time to waste. I learnt to live second by second, minute by minute, as if they were the last to enjoy to the fullest; a dignified life that I will be able to tell my grandchildren about when I become a grandmother.” (A, 15 years old)  “Looking back at these past months I see a girl who has overcome numerous obstacles that seemed like mountains, a girl that has discovered sides to herself that did not know she had, like stubbornness and a strong determination that brought her great satisfaction. I also see a girl that looks at school with different eyes compared to years ago, she is happy to learn and rack her brain, and she wants to do her best. I think I have also changed a lot, especially in my maturity and I hope to always continue listening to myself, my mind, but above all my heart.”  (S, 16 years old)  We can acknowledge and thank them. Children and young people have strongly contributed to the health and safety of their communities.   “We have renounced to many things, but we are also conscious that we became stronger as people and have proven that as teenagers we belong to a community (…) and that in tough times we can also be supportive of adults while we continue to dream about our future.” (G, high school)  We can listen to what they have to say. We cannot assume that we already know how children and young people feel and what is best for them.   "The issues that the ruling class in Italy should focus on to ensure the present and future well-being of adolescents, in my opinion, are related to their freedom to live surrounded by friends and family. For this reason, it would not be a bad idea to increase the number of green outdoor spaces, to allow children to be together and close to each other in an area with clean, natural air, where they can have fun and talk without too many worries.” (M, 15 years old)   “As far as our political class is concerned, I hope that this epidemic has taught us and made us realize that schools are fundamental for us to be able to grow up in a safer world, and I hope that in the future the government will invest in schools in an intelligent, conscious way, without wasting money that our whole society will pay for.”  (G, high school) We, as researchers, learnt many lessons by talking directly to children and young people and, now more than ever, we strongly believe all adults should listen to and engage with them as key members of society.  For example, by working closely with children and young people in the preliminary stages of the research process, we learnt to dismantle our assumptions about what was ‘best’ from a methodological and ethical perspective and welcomed new and unconsidered possibilities that gave high value to the research work. During the analysis phase, we also started noticing that several of the “characters of the pandemic,” collectively created and drawn by the participants during the focus groups, were purposefully genderless. In that moment we realized that, using creative research methods that allow young people to fully express themselves, can unlock the research potential to tell us more than what we were looking for.  We now look forward to continuing and expanding this research to find out what children and young people have to say in other contexts around the world, and to becoming a bridge between their emotions, thoughts, and ideas, and the decision-makers.  Learn more about the research and related studies in the report “Vite a Colori”.      

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