Article by Deron Denton. Reporting assistance from Shane Alliew, Carmelinda Carpio and Patricia Calderón.
Inspired teens in Children International’s youth programs all over the world are creating a brighter future for themselves and their communities.
Elected youth leaders in Kolkata, India, recently held their annual meetings to determine how best to use $20,000 in Youth Empowerment Funds. (Children International gives these funds to each of our 15 democratically elected Youth Councils.) They then develop ideas for community-improvement projects on which to spend them. Proposed projects undergo scrutiny by a panel of peers, a staff member and two former Youth Council members.
Years of experience have taught us that this unique aspect of CI’s youth program is a wise investment. Truly empowering young people means you trust them to set worthy goals and then give them the responsibility and the power of decision-making to achieve those ends – with just the right amount of supervision and guidance. And teens are uniquely qualified to know which problems their communities face and how to go about making a significant difference toward resolving them.
The winning projects in Kolkata this year include first-aid training for youth and volunteers, classes in the visual arts (with the goal of launching microenterprise projects after the training), as well as health and literacy awareness programs throughout our communities.In the Philippines, youth received training from the "Kick TB" program and marched to raise awareness of the disease.
Youth in Quezon City, Philippines, have been busy. Many recently received training in our “Kick TB” program. As co-facilitators, they join existing staff and volunteer parents who’ve already been working with us to fight tuberculosis – a serious problem in congested urban areas. The aim is to reduce TB infections through health education to teach others how to detect, treat and avoid spreading the easily transmitted illness.Youth in community centers in the Philippines are aiming to reduce tuberculosis infections through health education.
In Barranquilla, Colombia, the mayor chose four sponsored teens to serve on the first Council of Children and Adolescents. The council will address some of the big issues facing youth, such as avoiding teen pregnancy, reducing violence and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
The four young representatives joined 21 other members from different organizations throughout the city. During the event, sponsored 16-year-old Leydis took to the stage at the city’s largest soccer stadium and read the council’s proclamations with great maturity.
“It is a privilege to be a part of the council,” she said afterward, “because not all young people get the opportunity to live such new experiences.”
CI youth around the world are getting opportunities to improve lives and help their communities: