Of all the experiences and discoveries I have been making here in Cochabamba, perhaps the most enlightening has been the place of child ambassadors. Each project that is affiliated with the Early Encounter Project (a city-wide strategy promoted by Viva, Toybox and 180 degrees), elects two children and one or more child leaders to represent them. These elections are held by the children, for the children and are conducted democratically. It’s a fascinating approach to encouraging children as leaders instead of just viewing them as passive recipients as often occurs in ministry to children. Today I met with a group of child ambassadors that showed interest in my research and even went on to encourage me to find avenues to use what I am learning here in Bolivia. Together we decided it would be good if the child ambassador model could be put into use in other regions around the world. To a certain extent, they have given me a mandate to complete in the years ahead. The boys and girls I met with today emphasized the importance of letting children speak into the design of projects and even went as far to say that children should be given a voice in the political arena. But perhaps the most fascinating aspect to
the ambassadors project is the idea that they are actually serving other children and adults. They pointed to service as the motivation behind what they do. Adults play a key aspect to the implementation of programs like the child ambassadors project. Research points toward the importance of adults making space for child-based leadership.