Helsinki is celebrating the rights of children through a variety of free programme

During the World Children's Week Monday 20 – Sunday 26 November 2023, the City of Helsinki is offering a wide range of programme intended for children, youth and families. Free of charge events will be held in City of Helsinki‘s cultural centres, libraries and youth centres, among other venues. Helsinki is a child-friendly municipality, and the rights of children are at the heart of the city’s operations all year round.
Helsinki is a child-friendly city where every child and young person has the right to safe growth and development. Photo: Jussi Hellsten
Helsinki is a child-friendly city where every child and young person has the right to safe growth and development. Photo: Jussi Hellsten

Helsinki offers children, teens and families plenty of activities, facilities and events. The cultural centres, for example, hold hundreds of child-friendly workshops, shows and art education activities every year.

Helsinki is a child-friendly city where every child and young person has the right to safe growth and development. Helsinki is also a candidate member supporting UNICEF’s Child Friendly Municipalities initiative, which promotes the rights of children in cities and municipalities. 

“Focus on children is at the heart of our operations. We listen to the opinions of children and young people and take them into account when planning our services. We reinforce the sense of safety of children and young people in urban spaces and train our personnel to face children and young people as equals,” says Pirjetta Mulari, the director of Annantalo and the City of Helsinki’s Chief of Children's Culture.

Cultural centres offer children’s films, circus and well-known performers

Annantalo Arts Centre for Children and Young People is the heart of children’s culture in Helsinki, and it will also be full of programme during the World Children's Week. Tuntu (Sensation) performance by Dance and Mime Theatre Auraco explores how it feels to experience a space without the sense of vision (on Wed 22 and Thu 23 November), and Babykino (on Wed 22 November) offers high-quality children’s movies. The Children’s Day programme on Saturday 25 November features comics and robotics workshop, among other activities, as well as the tunes of Musical Mega Playschool.

On the same day, 25 December, a Family Day will be held in Stoa. The programme features a modern circus performance Atlas by Ilmatila and a Tulevaisuuskoulu (Future School) event, where visitors get to explore alternative futures, design hydrogen cars and make new kind of fabric from plastics. On Saturday 25 November, the beloved classic Treasure Island will be performed as a music theatre show in the Maunula House.

On Monday 20 November, Malmitalo presents the Disney film Soul – Sielun syövereissä. On Tuesday 21 November, The Meidän lapset Malmilla (Our Children in Malmi) event will offer well-being lectures for the parents, information about the area’s family centre services, and children’s programme, such as a fun obstacle course, a circus performance by Sirkus Magenta and a circus workshop. Rap artist Mikael Gabriel will also speak at the event, offering perspectives into growing up at Malmi.

On Children's Day, Monday 20 November, flags will be flown all across the city, also in Annantalo and Vuosaari House, and children will be the events’ guests of honour. A City Councillor and basketball star Shawn Huff will raise the flag at Vuosaari House and he will also speak to children about what a child’s right to well-being means. On Wednesday 22 November, Vuosaari House will show the PAW Patrol film in English, and on Saturday 25 November, Musical Mega Playschool entertains families with children.

Libraries dive into the world of fairytales and Youth Centres explore the world of games

The library services of Helsinki celebrate the World Children’s Week with story and children’s poem times held in libraries around the city. The Itäkeskus Library will teach the guests emotional and friendship skills in the fairytale workshop held on Saturday 25 November, and Töölö Library will hold a children's weekend on Saturday 25 – Sunday 26 November, where visitors can enjoy and create stories taking place during dusk or dawn.

In Helsinki Youth Centres, the rights of children are highlighted over the week and addressed in group discussions and individual meetings. Different exercises will be done together with the young people and they can also play games related to the theme. Toivon Talo in Pukinmäki will have an exhibition showcasing the rights of children, works of which are created through youth workshops. During the week, Operaatio Pulssi! North will also plan its spring activities together with the young people, focusing especially on their hopes, needs and wellness. In 2023, the main theme of the World Children’s week is children’s right to well-being.

Guided EasySport activities intended for 3rd–6th grade pupils by Helsinki Sports are visiting the HUS’s New Children’s Hospital. During the visit, the EasySport instructors will present the city’s hobby selection intended for children and young people to the patients and personnel of the New Children’s Hospital.

The different city divisions will also hold a wide range of other programme during the week, such as an event at the Helsinki City Hall on 20 November, where deputy mayors talk with children and young people about the school health survey’s results published in October. A total of 200 children and young people from Helsinki will visit the event.

Children’s stories to be heard all around the metropolitan area

In addition to the city’s own programme, the children’s culture operators in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa have joined forces to publish a joint Lasten tarinat (Children’s stories) sound installation during the World Children’s Week. This work will be played in the cities’ shopping centres and public facilities, such as museums and libraries. The purpose of the work is to make children’s voice heard all across the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

The participants to this project now implemented for the first time were Annantalo Arts Centre from Helsinki, Children's Cultural Center Aurora from Espoo, Children's cultural centres Pessi, Toteemi and Pyykkitupa from Vantaa and the Literary Art School of Vantaa.