A Christmas for the children to be heard: Christmas tree illumination and children’s rights project at Vienna UNO City

The long-standing tradition of lighting up the Christmas tree in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre (VIC) was dedicated this year to a special project on children’s rights, implemented by the Vienna educational districts (Bildungsgrätzl) in a joint campaign.

VIENNA, 1 December 2023 - Twenty children from the VIC kindergarten of the City of Vienna were present at the Christmas tree ceremony, representing children and teenagers across Vienna’s educational districts (Bildungsgrätzl), who participated in the children’s rights project. Implemented by the educational district Kaisermühlen together with eleven other educational districts in Vienna, the project focused on promoting Article 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: the right of the child to be heard, as well as the right to freedom of expression.

The participating young children and students prepared 80 letters of their wishes, covered in golden envelopes, which were presented to Ernst Woller and Austria’s Ambassador to the UN in Vienna Gabriele Sellner by the VIC kindergarten children, marking their bright hopes for this coming season and their wishes for a peaceful future for all children in the world.

Ernst Woller, First President of the Viennese Provincial Parliament addressed the children, their parents and guests at the event, alongside United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna Director Martin Nesirky and Ambassador Gabriela Sellner and Angelika Wölfer from the City of Vienna, Vienna Service Office at the VIC.

 Photo: Marijana Bozic

As the Christmas tree light bulbs were turned on, the children joyfully circled around the tree, revealing the Christmas tree decorated with messages for a better world written by the children. There were also singing and dancing performances on the theme of children’s rights. The Wiener Zitherfreunde performed through the afternoon, while the children had the opportunity to decorate their own gingerbread.

Background info educational districts (Bildungsgrätzl):

Educational districts (Bildungsgrätzl) are long-term, locally-based collaborations between schools and kindergartens with extracurricular institutions in the areas of (adult) education, youth and social work, sport, culture and health.

When implementing the Vienna Educational districts (Grätzl), various municipal departments of the City of Vienna (education and youth, schools, kindergartens, integration and diversity, child and youth welfare) work together with the Vienna Education Directorate and the Education, Youth, Integration and Transparency business group.

They ensure a diverse range of educational, leisure and advisory services in the districts where the children, young people and adults live. The educators receive comprehensive training and benefit from the professional exchange with others. The guiding principle for the collaboration is that it takes a district (Grätzl) to raise a child.