CJUR INTERNATIONAL: Urban Thinkers Kids Lab Pido la Voz (Ask the Voice)

CJUR INTERNATIONAL: Urban Thinkers Kids Lab Pido la Voz (Ask the Voice)

The children, being aware of their rights and the law, and as the key players in an effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda, met at the “Urban Thinkers Kids Pido la Voz (Ask the Voice)” held from January 10 to 12 in the Convention Center in the city of Puebla, Mexico.  This event, organized by CJUR International, Lead Partner of the World Urban Campaign, was attended by 217 children from 9 to 12 years old, that represented the 217 municipalities of the State of Puebla, Mexico.  The creativity and leadership were the key drivers to develop in the “Urban Thinkers Kids Pido la Voz.”

                On January 9, the children moved from their communities and arrived at the High-Performance Centre of Puebla, the place designated by the Government of Puebla to host them.  Judith Aguilar, 18 years old, one of the founders of CJUR Kids, was in charge of welcome them.  We assigned the children to small teams, called cells; each of them had a leader.  The leaders were young people from 15 to 22 years old trained in the methodology, dynamics, and urban routes.  Each cell worked as a contention group and was the key of the methodological process.  After the initial dynamic, the dinner was served.  While the children ate, Esther, the trophologist of CJUR Kids team, offered a pleasant chat about food and the essence of nutrition as a fundamental right.

                The CJUR pedagogic scheme was founded on three main topics (Urban Labs): 1) Change Agents, 2) My City, My Rights, and 3) I Build my City.  Besides, we prepare six urban routes deployed in two different zones of the city.  Each group walked two of them, one per zone, to live and feel the city.

On January 10, we initiate by celebrating the Initial Assembly, and the official opening of the Urban Thinker works.  Alfredo Manrique, an expert from ONU-Habitat Colombia-Ecuador, and Fiona Littlejohn, a specialist from CEPAL, gave two presentations showing the children how are other children of the world.  Pablo Aguilar, from CJUR International, addressed the children were the key players in the Assembly and the heart of the Urban Thinkers.

                After the Initial Assembly, the first round of simultaneous sessions of the Urban Kids Lab started.  Each cell and its leader moved into a conference room to meet the guides that facilitate the encounter.  Each of the groups experienced the three following dynamics:

  1. Change Agents.  In this session, guided by Maru Rodríguez and Othón Osorio from the CJUR pedagogic team, the children took a trip in time, from the birth of the Universe and to the unveil and deployment of their life mission, as change agents.  Through a video, we traveled at the beginning of time and identified that we have a common origin.  Then, by using a slideshow and riddles, we introduced them different personages that have changed the world or their country.  They know the human dimension of those people by being aware of their limitations, life circumstances, talents, and virtues.  We concluded that everyone could be a change agent.  So, the children worked within their cells to find the things they like to do by selecting images and words that showed different activities, professions, or roles.  They shared with others their elections and the reasons why they make them happy.  Finally, supported by a visualization exercise led by the guides, we traveled to the future to unveil their dreams.  The children draw or described in a pillow what their dream was about and shared it with the group.


  1. My City, My Rights.  In this session, guided by Luz María Moreno and Pablo Aguilar, the children learned about the law and their fundamental rights, by using the model of a UN Assembly.  They acknowledged the law and rights are vital to living in accord and peace.  We started by having a shared understanding of the definition of law, what it is and what is for.  We continued by playing a play in each cell, in which the children identified their rights.  Then, each cell chose a pair of them, by dialoguing and debating.  When they decided on the two right, the next step was to elect three representatives, so they present to the other cells their conclusions in an assembly model.  Once we installed the Assembly, the representatives gave their speech to the plenary.


  1. I Build my City.  In this session, guided by Daniella Arámburo y Antonio Quintana, the children were introduced to the New Urban Agenda and designed the city of their dreams.  First, the children shared a common base by knowing what the UN and UN-Habitat are.  We explained them each of the principles the New Urban Agenda proposes.  Then, by using a visualization exercise, each child imagined the city of their dreams.  In a plenary, we reorganized the children into teams that represented each of the principles and started to build their city.  The children revised if their city fulfills with the postulate each group represented.  They observed by turns in a rotary way, to see their mock-up in 360 degrees and decide on changes and modifications to accomplish the New Urban Agenda.  Their work was exhibited on the Closing Assembly.

In the afternoon, we scheduled the Urban routes.  The first day we walked in the zone of “Barrios” (boroughs).  In these ways, the children experienced the city, they see what they like them or not in each area, they know the place’s history and the changes the city has had through time.  When we backed, we enjoyed an interactive concert of wind music offered by the CECAMBA Orchestra. 

In the next day, besides holding the simultaneous sessions of the Urban Thinkers Lab, the children had an interactive session regarding the Children Rights organized by the Government of the State of Puebla.  We also cover an urban route, that in the second day, had the downtown of Puebla as their destination.  During these journeys, the children witnessed other aspects of the city, its history, and the effect the recent earthquake had on the city buildings.  At the Zocalo (at center of the town), we implemented a public space dynamic in which the participants expressed their good wishes to Puebla.  Then, we went to the atrium of the Cathedral, where the children listened to a concert offered by The Morelos School Center Band, integrated by 250 children and young.

                The third day, we started by attending a presentation from Ricardo Jordán, an expert from CEPAL, who spoke about the children as change agents in the world.  Pablo Aguilar gave a speech to focus the children towards the conclusions, and we regrouped the children in 7 teams (one per economic region in the State of Puebla) to facilitate the conclusions dynamics by using five questions:

  1. What do I like from my community?
  2. What do I dislike from my community?
  3. How can I generate a change in my community?
  4. What proposals do I have to enhance my community?
  5. How can I ask adults’ intervention to promote a concrete change in my community?

In plenary sessions, each of the seven economic regions responded these questions.  Representatives from each region were selected, so they were the spokesmen in the Closure Assembly.  In this session, the children presented their conclusions, their work and expressed their vision to the invited adults that represented the three levels of government (local, state, and national), as well as the private initiative, civil society, being the witness of honor, Ricardo Jordán from CEPAL.

Article by CJUR 
Photo Credits: CJUR (CC)