What Do Youth Need to be Successful?

by Jason Schwartzman, ChildFund Team Leader for Child & Youth Involvement

Drawing of Zambia youthMy colleagues and I who gathered in India for the youth summit were eager to gain perspective from youth enrolled in ChildFund programs. We seek to better understand the way they are seeing their world and their futures.

We asked young people to identify the personal strengths they need inside themselves as well as the outside support they need to be successful. Rather than just sitting around in a circle and talking about it, we asked for a volunteer to lie down on a giant piece of paper. The group then used markers to outline their peer’s body. The next step is to fill in the drawing and use the various parts of the body to stimulate a conversation.

Drawing of youthWhen we tried this in Zambia some time ago, that group got creative and gave their drawing of a young man a silhouette so that they could capture the outside support he requires. Here’s a close-up of the area around the head.

The young man needs a sober mind to process information, to make the right choices and decisions, to be innovative and to be resilient. At the same time, he needs support, like youth centers and forums for speaking out and participating in decision-making processes.

Drawing of a Sierra Leone youthHere’s a view of the area around the heart from the drawing by youth in Sierra Leone.

Internally, young people need to be friendly, have good relationships and determination and be obedient and hardworking. They also require support systems like recreation, vocational training, job opportunities and computer training.

These are just a couple of examples of how young people are communicating their needs — and how well they understand their needs. Especially striking is just how much youth have in common across countries, regions and cultures.

In the next blog, we’ll take a closer look at the challenges young people tell us they face in these diverse locations.

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