When supported and encouraged, children can be impactful changemakers, sometimes even better than adults.
Make a child feel heard and they will speak their mind.
That’s what happened to 10-year-old K Joanna Kristina, who in February wrote to the Chief Minister of Penang, requesting an upgrade for her rundown neighbourhood playground.
In a letter addressed to Chow Kon Yeow and his deputy, P Ramasamy, the girl expressed her disappointment in being denied the opportunity to play at the playground. According to her, her mother considered it unsuitable for children, resulting in her being unable to enjoy its facilities.
“People come and throw bottles, furniture there, and the stone bench is broken. There got big trees need to cut them (sic) for safety.
“(You) must also light up the place, like you have put lights in the Peacock Park with colourful lights (sic) because my playground is dark at night,” she wrote.
In the letter that Joanna penned on February 11, she extended an invitation to Chow and Ramasamy, urging them to visit her playground and lend their support.
Concluding the letter with gratitude, she expressed her thanks, signed her name, and added an affectionate “I love Penang” farewell.
Four months later, the little girl’s dream came true. She got the upgraded playground she wanted.
Yesterday, in a Facebook update, Chow, expressed his joy over granting the wish of 10-year-old K Joanna Kristina, who had fervently wished for an upgraded playground at Taman Chai Leng in Seberang Jaya.
Both Chow and Ramasamy visited the playground to participate in the official inauguration of the completed upgrade work.
As reported in the state government’s bi-weekly publication, Buletin Mutiara, the playground and the basketball court have been refurbished and are now open for the residents to enjoy.
Additionally, the Chief Minister also took this occasion to praise Joanna’s assertiveness and emphasized the importance of acknowledging every child’s right to voice their thoughts and wishes.
“This is something to be emulated, as when you have the courage to ask for something, you will be able to receive it,” Chow said.
“I hope that this would be seen as an inspiration for the children to voice their concerns or suggestions, be it at school, home, or through letters to their respective assemblymen, councillors, or even the mayor,” he added.