Year of Youth

Positioning Youth to Change the World

by Virginia Sowers, Community Manager

Working for ChildFund, I see the faces of children every day — on our website, on our walls, in our publications and in my e-mail box as new photos arrive from the field.

As I download these photos and take in the soulful eyes, shy smiles and sometimes tense expressions, I find myself wondering where these children will be as they enter their teen years. Will they be prepared and able to avoid exploitative situations? Will they have to quit school and earn money for their families and younger siblings? Will they have the skills to find rewarding and remunerative work?

Worrisome questions to be sure. But after spending time this week with key members of our staff who are working with youth-focused programs in the Americas, Africa and Asia, I’m feeling reassured. ChildFund programs are preparing children for their teen years, and we’re carefully listening to what those young people say they need to navigate the challenges before them.

In fact, as the United Nations’ International Year of Youth begins today, I’m happy to report that ChildFund has a lot of momentum already in its intensified focus on youth. We are providing civic engagement and leadership programs, livelihood training, and reproductive health education and services. In ChildFund programs and partnerships all over the world, young people are discovering and developing new capacities — changing themselves, changing their communities and positioning themselves to change the world.

Watch ChildFund youth leaders in the Philippines share their challenges.

Discover how young people in Zambia mobilized and made their community safer.

See how youth reporters in Ecuador present their world through their eyes.

Learn how a youth group in Dominica created an Internet café for themselves and their community.

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