Empowering children and adults to build an inclusive society

CATS 2017

CATS 2017


‘We are the citizens of today and tomorrow,’ stated Kehkashan Basu, 17, winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize, as she opened the fifth edition of Children as Actors for Transforming Society (CATS). Empowering children to become the leaders of tomorrow is what CATS is all about. CATS 2017 gathered 264 children, young people and adults of 34 nationalities to promote inclusion and to give children experiencing exclusion a voice.

The week-long event kicked off with games through which children and adults learned how to collaborate in order to reach their goals, while also bonding and having fun. Learning Spaces gave participants the opportunity to explore different types of exclusion and inclusion and where we might encounter it: in school, at home, in different institutions. In one activity participants were blindfolded so as to experience what it is like to play a sport blind and to understand exclusion. In another session participants were asked to use playdough to share their experience in Caux. Mohamed, 16, from France explained: ‘I made a heart because even if it’s the beginning of the week, I know I’m going to leave this place with a bigger heart.’

‘You need to listen to everybody in order to create spaces for everyone to feel included,’ said Gerison Lansdown, Chair of Child to Child, as she led a session on unpacking inclusion with Dutch journalist and children’s correspondent Tako Rietveld. ‘Don’t focus on the person, focus on the barrier,’ she recommended.

Participants explored diversity and inclusion during interactive Let’s Explore sessions, which included juggling, music, art, theatre, storytelling, peacebuilding and intercultural dialogue workshops. In one workshop on exploring gender and how it can be a source of discrimination, children and adults used newspapers and magazines to help them discuss gender exclusion and stereotypes.

Evening programmes offered an opportunity for everyone to have fun together. There was a disco night, enjoyed by the Kittens, aged between two to ten, as well as the older participants, and a talent night in the Caux Palace theatre.

What does an inclusive society look like? On the last afternoon of the conference, children and adults built a CATS city, where everyone feels included, out of cardboard boxes and creative materials.   

Participants worked all week to develop their project for the CATS 90 Day Challenge. ‘In 90 days, you can plant a seed, water it, watch it grow and flourish,’ said Julie Ward, children’s rights champion and Member of the European Parliament, as she encouraged participants to take action after the event. ‘You don’t have to be a billionaire or a president to make a difference, you just need motivation.’

As the week came to an end, participants shared their experiences of CATS. ‘I was a book at the human library and I thought my story was perhaps too personal and that it would not interest anyone,’ said one young participant. ‘It was quite the opposite actually. Here [in Caux], I understood that even when you are at your lowest, you must not give up because the best is yet to come.’  

‘My experience here transformed me: we laughed together, reflected together, shared together and cried together,’ said another participant. ‘But we also built hope together. I could hear how children see the world. There is no word in the dictionary to express the impact this week had on me, on my life.'   


Featured Story

related stories

Mohammed Abu-Nimer

Mohammed Abu-Nimer: Dialogue – Weaving peace into the fabric of society

Mohammed Abu-Nimer is Professor at the American University’s School of International Service in International Peace and Conflict Resolution in Washington DC and a Senior Advisor to the International D...

Sabica Pardesi

Learning to be a Peacemaker 2020

"I am really thankful to the person who introduced me to the Initiatives for Change programme "Learning to be a Peacemaker". It was life-changing in so many ways. It opened my eyes to things we know i...

Irina Fedorenko CDES 2020 screenshot

Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security 2020

The Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security aimed high in its first online edition, with more than 15 sessions and a cumulative total of 450 participants. Experts discussed the connection between se...

CL 2020 piano at the opening

Creative Leadership – Together for Change

The Creative Leadership conference took participants on a six-day journey of personal inquiry to discover what creative leadership is and what kind of leaders they are. More than 120 passionate change...

SCreenshot keywords T4C 2020

Tools for Changemakers 2020 – Shaping the future together through dialogue

Can you truly listen? What if we all had the power to make our communities more cohesive and inclusive by starting to deeply listen to each other? The Tools for Changemakers conference was a three-day...

ELB 2020 livestream panel 2 with camera

Ethical Leadership in Business – Leadership for a resilient economy

The Ethical Leadership in Business conference, on 25 and 26 June 2020, kicked off the first Caux Forum Online. It offered a diversified experience with panels livestreamed from the Caux Palace, networ...

Summer Academy 2020 screenshot participants cropped credit: Alan Channer

Summer Academy 2020: expansive possibilities for the future

The effusive feedback from participants in the five-day 2020 Summer Academy on Land, Climate and Security vindicated the difficult decision to take the course online. Four months ago, this had seemed ...

CDLS 2019 Chau Duncan

Retooling the wheel for regenerative investment

Chau Tang-Duncan, co-founder and chief operating officer of Earthbanc, has been coming to Caux regularly since 2010. It was there that she first embraced the role she could have in connecting people a...

Karina Cheah

Overcoming the challenges of online dialogue groups

I have never been to Caux. I had also never moderated a dialogue group before, in or outside of the Caux Forum. As I faced the prospect of co-facilitating an online dialogue group in the Caux Dialogue...

Tony Rinaudo

Tony Rinaudo: For a better future in Niger

Why would an Australian farmer who moved to Africa in the 1980s be called ‘the forest-maker’? Tony Rinaudo, World Vision Australia's climate action advisor, told this year's Caux Dialogue on Environme...

CDES teaser theme square

Land and Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: assessing the risks and seeking a response

As part of the Caux Forum Online 2020, Initiatives of Change Switzerland and the Human Security Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs organized a video-conference in French on ‘L...

Caux Palace view night

Climate and the economy in the post-COVID world

As pandemic-related lockdowns and travel restrictions slowly begin to ease and a return to normal life seems nearer at hand, we are at a critical juncture as to how we choose to act towards our enviro...

Nazarene Mannie

My Learning Story: Nazrene Mannie

Nazrene Mannie is the Executive Director of the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) and talks about her learning experiences. Our interview series 'My Learning Story’ hopes to become a global learning...

Daniel Clements

From personal change to conference leadership: Daniel Clements

Daniel Clements, the coordinator for this year’s Creative Leadership conference, would not have become involved with Initiatives of Change Switzerand without his father, who recommended that he attend...

COVID 19 slider EN square

The Caux Forum is going online!

Our team together with the international IofC Network is working hard to give you an online 2020 Caux Forum, trying to get you as close as possible to the “Caux experience”. Although we will not be ab...

related events

Opening Ceremony 2018 audience 28 June 2018

Opening Ceremony 2018

opening ceremony 26 June 2019

Opening Ceremony