I was born in 1981 in Aalbeke, a tiny Flemish village. My parents raised us (my older brother, me and my younger sister) to be aware of the world around us; as a toddler, I went with them to the big anti-nuclear missile manifestations.
As a teenager, I took a course to be a youth councillor. That way I could do something for other teenagers who were going through a rough time.
As a high school pupil, I cofounded the Vlaamse Scholierenkoepel (Flemish Pupils Council). I strongly believed, and still believe, that children and teenagers should actively participate in politics and decision-making. My experiences as a politician repeatedly strengthened my conviction that children are perfectly capable of considering more than their personal interests.
At eighteen, I became a member of Agalev (the green party, today Groen). Two years later I joined the national party committee.
As a student I got involved with the alter-globalization movement. I participated in the European Social Forum in Firenze, worked as a reporter for Indymedia and co-organized protest manifestations against the war in Iraq.
The rest of my time I spent studying Modern History in Leuven and Ghent.
Like so many students, I fell in love in (and with) Ghent. In 2006, I participated in the local elections and ever since I’ve been a member of the city council.
Inspired by my brother’s handicap, I worked for ten years defending equal rights for people with a handicap.
After the elections of 2012, I left my job and became alderwoman, responsible for Education, Training and Youth.
My ambiton: to make Ghent the most child-friendly city of Belgium, not only for my son and daughter, but for all children.
To accomplish this, I strive towards:
- high-quality and accessible child care
- financial means for youth work and guidance
- modern school buildings
- professional support for teachers
- safe traffic, less cars and priority for cyclists and pedestrians
- green areas in the city
- playgrounds in the city
I strongly believe in exchanging knowledge and expertise on an international level.
Our interests do not stop at the borders, nor do our challenges, so why should we?
Among other events, I have participated in:
- participation in Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years, in Washington and Turin
- 2016: Ghent hosts Child in the City conference http://www.childinthecity.org/
- 2016: Ghent cofounds international city network to improve access to childcare (with Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Kopenhagen and Berlin) http://www.eu2016childandcity.nl
- 2017: Ghent hosts ‘Providing Access to Childcare and Employment’ conference