The Making of 17Promises

The Making of 17Promises

We wanted to see how children would respond to the news if it was presented in a familiar way; that of the picture book, the textbook, or the chapter book. When we saw that it was working, we felt we had to continue. We had to bring this new style of journalism and design to as many children as possible. What started out as an experiment has become a unique publication.

We also wanted to focus on something real and meaningful. This was presented to us by the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). These were previously known as the Millennium Development Goals, launched in 2000 and reviewed in 2015.

After reading the MDGs, it became clear. These aren’t goals. They are promises!

17Promises had been an irregular companion of our sister publication Chicken newspaper for Children. It didn’t take long to realise that it was going to be a much bigger publication. So we’ve taken the best parts and practices of Chicken newspaper; the look, the clarity of language, the feel of a traditional newspaper, and evolved it further to focus solely on the SDGs, or Promises.

It’s intelligent, non-patronising and most importantly engagingly informative to those children who read it. 17Promises brings the SDGs to life for children with the very skillful help of children’s authors, illustrators, designers, teachers, subject experts, partners and children themselves. Six to 14-year-old children will be voters by 2030. They will judge whether the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worked, or not. The SDGs are actually promises made by grown-ups, so all children need to know and understand what they mean for their future.

In February 2020 theUnited Nations held the African. Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) and for the first time review the progress of all 17 goals. This happened in our country, Zimbabwe, at Victoria Falls, where we spent our early childhood.

We presented the idea to the United Nations and Government of Zimbabwe in the hope that they would ‘get it’ that children are the most important stakeholders of a brighter, better future. And get it they did. Almost instantly the patnernship was formalised, and we set about creating a special issue of the publication and creating a video launch the concept at the Forum. Like-minded and enthusiastic sponsors quickly joined in and we had the beginnings of a memorable journey.

All through the process, designers and editors worked onto issue, painters, artisans, exhibition experts, and our printer worked tirelessly to ensure that everything would e ready the big launch at this most important event.

Finally, the launch video played at the opening ceremony, and the second video at the closing ceremony. In between, it repeated itself on every screen. 2500 copies of the special edition were handed out over three days. People were pleased. 

Three people read 17Promises in front of the 17Promises display

The world’s leaders pledged 17Promises t make life better for future generations- the children today. With 10 years to go, we are waiting to see if this will really be the Decade of Action. Our children are counting on us.

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