When a visitor comes to Helsinki, they often notice something: how come all these children are taking the subway and walking the streets all by themselves? That’s because Finnish society is among the safest in the world, and its capital city Helsinki is a place where everyone, including children, can move about freely without fear. Plus, we believe in nurturing children’s independence. It’s how they learn to make their own way in the world.
The second episode of the Helsinki Freedom mini-documentary series gives a glimpse of an ordinary day of the ordinary 9-year-old Helsinkian Selma. She loves to skateboard, play football, and knit – and that is hard to miss. Selma talks about her everyday life, including school and hobbies. Her Norwegian mum and Finnish dad are not seen in the documentary but a special story about Selma's mother is shared.
Director: Ronja Salmi
Ronja Salmi is an author and journalist from Helsinki. She also works as the programme director of the Helsinki Book Fair. Salmi has years of experience of working on television productions and she is known for her series Mitä mietit, Ronja Salmi? (What's on your mind, Ronja Salmi?) where she addresses challenges faced by young adults, such as sexuality, intoxicants and mental health.
Feeling safe in Helsinki
"For me, Helsinki is a safe place to move around and live in. I become aware of this whenever I travel elsewhere. Chaotic traffic sometimes gives me a fright, but this problem doesn't exist in Helsinki. I like to think that it is safe to wander anywhere around Helsinki at any given moment.
In Finland, school children can move around by themselves, they can go pursue their hobbies or visit friends. This is also true in Helsinki. Societal trust is strong and there is a sense that it is safe for children to move around on their own. I feel that the right of a child to have independent mobility and to be able to pursue hobbies is a manifestation of freedom. Freedom also includes the opportunity to operate independently."