Field Notes: November

Field Notes: November 2017

Celebrating the rights and voices of children

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1959, and an expanded Convention on the Rights of the Child was introduced on that same date 30 years later. The Convention consists of 54 Articles outlining the rights we believe hold true for all children. Many of the rights outlined are within our power as educators to protect and are activities we know can foster well-being.

A poster of this pivotal treaty hangs in the HELP offices at the University of British Columbia, and its principles strongly informed my journey to create the MDI in 2006. Much like the Convention, the MDI holds that child well-being is of paramount importance, children have the right to give their opinion, and as adults, we have the responsibility to listen and take it seriously and the obligation to make sure we’re providing the best environments for children and doing our part to help them thrive.

This month, as we celebrate the anniversary of this declaration, we’re also asking over 33,000 children in British Columbia (and another 11,000 children across Canada) to tell us about their lives and to participate in a process of identifying their strengths and their needs through the MDI. This is our seventh year of collecting MDI data and the largest collection of MDI data to date. It is our job as researchers, as educators, as public servants, as family and community members to listen to what our children and youth have to say, share these findings back with them in a way they can understand, and work with them to ensure everyone has a chance to fully thrive in their community.

I’m excited to share some new resources and stories celebrating children’s voices below with all of you. But even more importantly, I want to thank all of the districts and communities who are participating in the MDI this year. Thank you for your dedication to ensuring children’s voices are heard and your continued work to help them thrive.

Kim Schonert-Reichl
Director, HELP

New on DiscoverMDI

Video: Learning by Listening

Asking children how they feel and what they think doesn’t just give us the information we need to help them thrive — it respects them and gives power to their voices.

Several members of HELP’s Aboriginal Steering Committee share their perspectives on children’s voices in this new video.


Tools for Making Change

We’ve created a new page to collect tools, videos, action ideas, and shareable graphics all in one place.

Check it out and let us know what you think; we’d love to hear what resources you’d like to see next on the site.

Creating a focus group for children

The MDI survey is just one part of listening to children’s voices. Consider conducting a focus group or kid’s advisory group to follow up on MDI results and dig deeper in the lives of middle-years children in your schools and communities.

Check out our suggestions on creating fun, open, and trusting conversations with children.

What we’ve been reading


Right here in British Columbia, a dedicated group is working to finalize a Charter of Child Rights for the Tri-Cities. Learn more about the project on their website and feel free to contact with MDI Champion Angelo Lam with any questions you have.

The Discover Museum in East London harnessed the voices and imagination of children to help design their exhibits.
You can read more about how this process came about here.

Municipal elections were held across the province of Québec earlier this month. In the city of Montréal, kids could vote too: children accompanying family to polling stations were asked what was most important to them in the city. Read more on the CBC website.

Mark Your Calendars


December 5
3:30 PM PST

MDI Q&A with Kim Schonert-Reichl and Mike Hooker

Craving more depth?
Let us know what areas of middle years development you’d like to know more about.

HELP’s Director Kim Schonert-Reichl and Revelstoke School District Superintendent Mike Hooker will answer your questions about the MDI and share how MDI concepts and data are used in schools.

RSVP here and submit your questions today.

The February MDI Trainer Network webinar (February 14 2018) will provide a deeper dive into one or two topics of middle years development. We’ll bring the latest research to the table and explore what it means for your children and your community.

The choice of topics is up to you: What would you like to see us discuss?
Sleep? Anxiety? Empathy?
Submit your topic here by December 15th.