Children and Youth Best Practices

Income Generation, Dignity and Citizenship, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This initiative empowers young black youth (aged 14-21 years) from low-income families by training them as Afro-Brazilian Beauty Specialists. The objective of the initiative is to generate alternative sources of income for young black girls, thus reducing poverty levels from communities on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro. The process not only provides the women with technical skills, but also builds up their self-esteem as a minority group.

Resources were provided by the "Solidarity Community Program Support Association (AAPCS)" and the federal government. The program, which runs for 6 months, has expanded its trainee-base from 30 in 1996, to over 900 in 1999. Students train for 720 hours and cover courses in world issues, critical thinking, administration, aesthetics, black culture, gender and ethnicity. In addition, the modules provide opportunities for discussions on women's reproductive health, chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, education, sanitation, environment etc.

Girls graduating from the program are absorbed into the mainstream labor force in salons in Rio, or in their own neighborhoods, thus meeting the needs of the Afro-Brazilian clientele. The process of inserting qualified persons in the market has been forged ahead by the creation of new partnerships with associations, beauty parlours and individuals.

Results have shown that with the increasing employment opportunities, the girls are able to support their families, re-enroll in higher education, afford better housing in well-serviced neighborhoods, and increase their self-esteem. As a result, the girls gain a renewed sense of citizenship, identity and self-awareness.

The program continues to expand by holding workshops in other poor communities, thereby reaching more youth.

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Gender Sensitive Park Design, Vienna, Austria

In this initiative, women sociologists and planners adopted principles of environment behavior research by studying how park designs in the Fifth District of Vienna affect girls' behaviour in, and perceptions of public space. A public participatory process involving the girls, local and external experts resulted in a gender sensitive re-design of Einsiedler Park and St. Johann Park. The results of a 'Gender-specific Park Design' competition provided input for a new comprehensive planning format.

The strategy adopted incorporates the girls' interests in games, sports activities and leisure preferences in the use of public spaces. This develops a sense of ownership for public and social outdoor spaces, and results in a more balanced distribution between male and female users of public parks.

Both park visitors and planning agencies are encouraged to be more sensitive to girls' use of open spaces by introducing appropriate design elements such as those propagated by Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CEPTED) techniques. These design considerations, such as, proper lighting of park trails, increased visibility, clear open spaces, multi-functional play areas etc, have improved many park users? sense of safety, particularly adolescent girls and the elderly.

In the study, the design considered adjacency and proximity of different park users to accommodate girl's needs. For instance, the girls play areas frequented by immigrant children, was placed next to the younger children's play structures so that the older girls could watch over the younger ones as they played.

The City Administration, in May 2000, planned to redesign a total of 22 parks in other districts in Vienna following these "gender-specific" guidelines. The Office for Planning and Housing Construction Methods, which addresses specific women's needs, is the authority in charge of supervision of the park design projects.

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Take Back the Park, USA

"Take Back The Park", initiated in 1987, represents a creative departure from previous youth programming in that it was the first project of its kind in New York City that gave young people - all high-risk youth - a lead role in motivating peers and adults in reclaiming community recreational space from drug dealers. Since its inception, "Take Back the Park," has every summer been mobilizing one or more New York City neighbourhoods to reclaim a local park that has been taken away from the community by drug dealing, vandalism, and/or substance abuse. The program mobilizes and trains community coalitions, including representatives from youth, police, parks department personnel, community-based agencies, tenants associations and community boards in collaborative community planning. Skilled and experienced youth work with neighbourhood young people to design and co-ordinate "Take Back the Park" activities, conduct neighbourhood needs assessment surveys, and develop networking between community youth and community police officers. Participating youth are provided with 25 hours of youth leadership and community organizing skills training, including topics such as program planning, outreach, community problem-solving and strategies for addressing drug trafficking and substance abuse. All "Take Back the Park" efforts remain in action today.

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Improving the quality of life for socially excluded children, India

Kolkata (City of Joy a.k.a Calcutta), with a population of 13.2 million, is one is one of the largest cities in the world. It's the capital city of the Indian State of West Bengal. More than a 100,000 children living in streets, red light areas and slums were left unattended and stayed away from schools. These vulnerable children were involved in menial labour, exposed to sexual exploitation and never had access to formal education. The purpose of the educational initiative that started in 1989 is to enroll all out-of-school children (in the age group (5-14 years) into local formal schools (Government Sponsored/Municipal Corporation Schools/ Private run Boarding Schools). Priorities include protecting children in vulnerable situations by providing them with shelter, protection, care and counselling with the involvement of railway authorities, police and the local public. The initiative has not only reached out to 15,000 deprived urban children but has been able to enroll 8,000 children into formal schools while reuniting them with their respective families.

The initiative also aims to sustain the effort of the social reintegration of children through local resource mobilization and community participation to create a sustainable environment for the children to be retained in schools. Community-based preparatory centres, coaching centres and residential camps for children living in slums and squatter settlements, help ensure that children remain in schools, away from forced labour. Stakeholder participation comprises community representation in planning and implementation. Sustainability is ensured by forming apex committees with representation from Youth Club members, community volunteers, ward councillors and parent-teacher committees.

Over the years, Children In Need Institute (CINI ASHA), has created a model in the field of education by evolving its own Bridge Course method (accelerated method of teaching/learning) for out-of-school/ drop-outs/never been to school-children. The children are reintegrated according to age and appropriate levels in one year's time. CINI ASHA has designed a package of the Bridge Course curriculum and training module in collaboration with UNESCO for training approximately 400 community volunteers to date. CINI ASHA, has also been a pioneer in designing modules and conducting training for NGO representatives in counselling street children in collaboration with National Institute of Social Defence. The innovative strategies have been replicated by NGOs and the Government at the national level.

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Adopt a Brother/Sister Programme, Chile

The "Adopt a Brother/Sister" program of the "National Foundation for Overcoming Poverty", is an innovative programme aiming to reduce the gap between the quality of the education imparted on children living in poverty and children from higher socio-economic sectors, and at the same time give university students the opportunity to make a social contribution by volunteering as mentors of disadvantaged children. The program was launched in 1999 and at present well over 700 university students from 30 universities are participating in the program reaching out to approximately 1000 children from 43 municipal schools in 19 municipalities.

Stakeholders are involved in the selection process, in order to reach out to children who can really benefit from this program. Firstly, the municipal director of education identifies schools situated in socially vulnerable environments and lacking existing social programs. Teachers in the targeted schools then identify needy students and forward a tentative list of names to the local coordinator of the program. Finally, The coordinator then shortlists potential beneficiaries based on interviews involving the children and their families.

Through meaningful and affective links between mentors and children, the program empowers children and improves their interpersonal skills, thus further developing their cognitive abilities. Furthermore, tutors establish close relationships with the children?s families, thereby improving family ties through a modeling process on how to influence the children in a positive manner. These efforts help strengthen trust and improve access to information about possible social networks, hence increasing social inclusion. The intervention aims to promote social equality and therefore social mobility through better education and access to resources and opportunities. The university students have on their part benefited from the experience as evidenced in the change in their attitudes towards poverty and their renewed sense of civic responsibility.

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Mathare Youth Self-Help Slum and Environmental Cleanup Project, Kenya

The Mathare Youth Sports Association started in 1987 as a self-help youth sport and community service project in Mathare valley, Nairobi?s largest slum settlement. Uncollected garbage and contaminated water in blocked drains are major causes of disease, disability and deaths in Mathare. MYSA has successfully responded to this problem by linking environmental clean up with sport. Youth football teams participate in environmental clean-up projects that earn them points in their league. Each completed garbage collection project, for example, earns a team 6 points while a match victory earns the team 3 points. MYSA has acquired garbage/tipper trucks and tractors and periodically clears all the accumulated garbage. The association has grown to a membership of 24,000 youths aged 11-18 years participating on over 800 boys and 250 girls teams playing over 10,000 matches a year. More recently, a girl?s league has been established with great success. Mathare United Football Club, an offshoot of MYSA has featured among the top Kenyan soccer teams and represented the country in regional tournaments.

The Mathare slums have high rates of HIV/AIDS infection. Since 1994, over 300 young boys and girls have received intensive training and are able to reach out to over 100,000 youth with critical information on AIDS prevention. Under the Gender Partnership Project started in 1996, over 3,500 girls are now members. Half the part-time staff are girls who earn wages on weekends to pay for their own school fees. Under the Leadership Awards Project MYSA also pays the school fees for over 50 top youth leaders.

MYSA projects outside the Mathare slums include providing lunch for jailed kids at the Juvenile Court and renovating the cells and toilets. In 1998 MYSA set up a self-help sports and community service programme for 30,000 refugee children at Kakuma Camp in northern Kenya. MYSA is run for and by the youth of the Mathare slums. Most of the several hundred elected MYSA officials, staff, trainers, leaders, volunteer coaches and referees are under 16 years old.

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The Alberta Teachers' Association Safe and Caring Schools Project, Canada

The Alberta Teachers' Association's (ATA) Safe and Caring Schools (SACS) Project is a not-for-profit, comprehensive, violence-prevention and character-education endeavor designed to encourage socially responsible and respectful behaviour. It addresses root causes of violence and crime through social development. The SACS Project takes a holistic approach emphasizing the critical role played by parents, teachers and other important adults in a child's life and by stressing the significance of the entire community in nurturing children and youth. The Project, which has a strong research base, is collaborative in nature involving dozens of organisations and agencies with like aims. It focuses on the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes in relation to living respectfully and responsibly, developing self-esteem, respecting and valuing diversity, preventing prejudice, managing anger, dealing with and preventing bullying and harassment, and managing and resolving conflicts peacefully.

The Project empowers vulnerable children and youth and fosters inclusive, caring and supportive behaviour among their peers and the adults who are viewed as important role models. Over 500 volunteer facilitators are trained to deliver programmes locally which builds capacity and sustainability at the school and community levels. They use more than 46 resources in print, video, workshop and internet formats, developed by the Project for students, teachers, parents and other adults.

Evaluations show reductions in violent and disruptive behaviour, increased academic achievement, and enhanced feelings of belonging among students, deeper appreciation for diversity and more caring toward others. The Project has been identified by a team of researchers as the "flagship" in school violence prevention in North America.

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Othandweni Project, Johannesburg, South Africa

Othandweni was a feeding scheme initiated in 1995, which later changed to a non-profit organisation. In 1995 Othandweni conducted a needs assessment test so as to identify the gaps in service delivery to street children/youth in the city. Two areas were identified for implementation of two projects, namely the Street Youth and Health Care. Othandweni aims at empowering the street children/youth of Johannesburg through four projects: Basic Care & Human Rights, Health Care, Sport & Recreation and Entrepreneurial Training. Othandweni reaches out to an average of 600 people monthly through its four projects.

Othandweni follows a developmental approach and its focus is to fill the gaps in the service delivery system. In line with the 1994 democratic elections in South Africa, children and youth voted through ballot so as to determine the name of the project. The biggest challenge was to gain the trust of the street both male and female. Initially all the staff stayed within the community and this helped to build relationships. When Othandweni was established it was evident that there was need to co-ordinate services to the street children and youth. The original networking meeting has since developed into the regional Johannesburg Alliance for Street Children, the provincial Gauteng Alliance for Street Children and the National Alliance for Street Children. Through the alliance a network is available which makes it possible for Othandweni to refer the children to the projects. The projects vary, for example some projects focus specifically on children under 16 and foster care placement.

If other stakeholders have children in need of health care, they are referred to Othandweni. The stakeholders are now a united force lobbying for the rights of street children globally. Through these efforts new policies and guidelines have been tabled, both locally and nationally. Social amenities have considerably improved since 1994 and there are a wide range of health services available to the homeless community. There are also additional training options available to the street youth and guardianship programmes for those who are in conflict with the law. In addition Othandweni piloted the first training programme for girls in June 2001-July 2002. The revised financial policy by the Department of Welfare now makes it possible to include programmes such as Othandweni.

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The Youth of the willow Project, Brazil

Pinhais is a suburban community near the city of Curitiba, with a total of 120,000 inhabitants. Pinhais, caters for 76% of all the water supply of Curitiba and the surrounding region. Large part of the poor population built their shacks near the rivers and as a result, a lot of litter created pollution of rivers, and much of the vegetation was destroyed. The general aim of the initiative is to influence and change the environmental practices in the community, thus creating the basis for sustainable ecological and social solutions.

The objectives of the initiative are to increase the forest cover of water-willows (salix viminalis) as a means to replenish the dwindling tree population on the banks of a local river. The main approach is to encourage the youth to plant willows in the water catchment areas while at the same time raising awareness on use of willow-wood as an alternative to rainforest-wood for production of furniture. The water-willow is also used in handicraft-production providing income for young people from poor background.

The local authority has supported the project by providing the necessary machinery and tools needed to work with the willow trees. As a result of this initiative, 625 families were relocated; 50,000 water-willow plants were planted; 100,000 native plants were planted; 400 young people returned to school; and 200 young people, have been employed. In addition, people living on the riverbanks have been able to change their fuel consumption behavior.

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Prince Mohammed Programme, Saudi Arabia

Prior to the inception of PMPQ&E there was a complete absence of a body responsible for guiding, counseling, training and qualifying Saudi graduates for specific jobs availed by various organizations. The purpose of the Prince Mohammad Program for Qualifying and Employing Saudi Youths (PMPQ&E) is to create a mediatory body, which matches the knowledge and skills of Saudi graduates, from all levels of education, to the existing employmet requirements. In addition, PMPQ&E guides, counsels and directs these graduates to jobs, which fit their qualifications and acquired skills/knowledge.

The program has, since its inception successfully established a fund financed by through contributions and donations by various benefactors to train Saudi youths. In addition, there are contributions to summer training programs, which are conducted on yearly basis in collaboration with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

In less than two years, PMPQ&E has been able to train, qualify and facilitate recruitment of 3,471 Saudi nationals into various professions. On average, 70% of the trainees were gainfully employed and the skills / knowledge they acquired were adequate from the employers' point of view. In addition, PMPQ&E set up 4 branches for the program in the Eastern province; established 2 women's branches, which train, qualify and help recruit Saudi women in specific jobs required by the employers. The Program has designed and maintains an extensive database, which archives information on both job seekers and opportunities.

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IT4Youth, Palestine

Northern rural areas of the West Bank, population 31,000 and per capita income of US$900 are among the poorest and least served communities in Palestine. The main economic activity of the area comprises small shops for basic goods. Since late 2000, under severe movement restrictions, unemployment and poverty has risen sharply to 70%. The growing poverty adversely affects children and youth, which comprise 70% of the population and they have limited access to higher education or vocational training. The IT4Youth program uses an integrated model to introduce computer-based information technology to young people in rural areas of the Palestinian West Bank. The program involves both school-based and community-based interventions to improve the learning skills and employment rate of its participants, thereby leading to an increased quality of life. The pilot IT4Youth covers a cluster of 11 West Bank villages and communities between Nablus and Jenin, and targets youth aged 10 through 24 in schools and through a regional community center. It provided for the construction/ renovation, and equipping of computer labs in 14 schools and a regional IT center that will be turned over to a Joint Community Services Council at the end of the project.

The IT4Youth project successively mobilized resources on local, national and international levels, and across public, private and non-profit sectors. The local partners (school administrators, village councils and regional heads) participated through mobilizing technical, financial and human resources, providing space for building the center and school labs, facilitating the training of teachers, and maintaining and sustaining the center and labs. They were also instrumental in their role of networking with the private sector for sponsorship of trainees, job placement, marketing and advertising in exchange for in-kind donations, and providing technical advice and commitment to the sustainability of project.

With 300 computers installed in 14 schools, the program has succeeded to develop annually over 4,000 IT-proficient Palestinian youth in a rural setting, 250 teachers, and parents and community members. The fully equipped regional IT center in Silet al-Daher provides an average 50 youth daily with Internet access, computer games, educational programs and vocational training. Youth managers organize the club activities and mentors volunteers to work with younger members. In addition, IT vocational trainees are placed to do internships in the community to get experience in new skills. The program has succeeded in engaging youth in technology through active teaching techniques in computer basics, internet skills and more advanced computer applications, in addition to facilitating leadership and mentoring in the regional IT center.

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EnREDando jóvenes para el Desarrollo (Involving young people in Development). Argentina.

Argentina had a population 37,031,802 in 2000 and this is expected to grow by 12 % to 41,473,702 people by 2018. In the provinces of Jujuy, Misiones, Buenos Aires and San Juan, policies related to youth development were lacking especially in terms of skills development. It was especially difficult for young people to gain space and participate in the community’s institutions. This led to massive exodus of young people to urban centres and resulting in the premature ageing of small communities.

The NET Programme aims to involve young people in local development by developing their capacity to undertake needs assessment and to appropriately respond to issues that are identified. The programme builds the capacity of young people by training them to plan and manage different projects that improve the quality of life

This programme is a synergy between different tiers of government as well as among different sections of the organized communities. It consists of an open examination of local development project proposals, an offshoot of the educational process in which groups of young people belonging to community’s organizations from different cities and towns participate. Successful proposals are given seed funding after proving that they will be financially sustainable in the long run.

The training process involves non-formal education that has its basis on two different approaches: attending training sessions and a long distance process of education. The financial support accorded to the programme is directed towards the execution and management of the individual projects of each community.

The main aims of these projects are focused on promoting and establishing youth networks; building of human capacity to plan and manage development projects; encouraging and promoting communication between young people and their communities as a strategy to build participation; and maintaining an information system on the capacities possessed by various youth and members of the community.

Among achievements in the three provinces of Argentina: Misiones, Jujuy and Buenos Aires: approximately 300 groups of young people have participated so far in the programme while a further 1,000 young people have been trained; close to 6,000 young people have been directly involved in various programmes that range from health education to social and cultural programmes. Close to 34 municipalities have collaborated and helped sustain the programme.

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Juntos Construyendo una Vida Mejor(TAC), Valparaíso, Chile

Chile has a population of 15,665,216 (July 2003 estimates) with a gender ratio of 1:1 and a total land area of 756,950 sq km. The Republic of Chile has one of South America's strongest economy's developed with substantial foreign investment and a very strong export sector. The country is rich in resources and it is now in the process of adding value to its own resources, moving away from a commodity based export sector. Its GDP per capita is US$3,913.

Valparaíso, or "Valpo," is city of 300,000 inhabitants, and the second largest city in Chile. This port city is known for its sinuous cobbled streets, zigzag roads, and steep footpaths. Juntos Construyendo una Vida Mejor (TAC) is community organization operating in Cordillera Hill of Valparaiso. Since 1990 TAC has been working to promote social inclusion children. This area is characterised by a strong cultural identity, social cohesion and has some of Chile’s unique social and physical cultural heritage. Before the advent of TAC’s community programme, social ties were weak and community participation in local development was lacking. In addition, the Cordillera Hill neighborhood was also characterised by deterioration and loss of public spaces, lack of waste management systems, and a general lack of trust for community leaders.

The main aim of TAC is to utilize the existing social structures to develop a community programme where the community ties would be reconstructed or strengthened as a precursor to mobilizing community members to improve their social and economic welfare. The community development initiative acknowledges leadership as a process of mediation between ‘different worlds.’ This has seen the active promotion of participation by more than 40 partners: Universities, Schools, Churches, grass roots organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Public Services, Volunteers, Inhabitants of the sector, children, youth, professionals, students, and artists.

The validity of this consolidated process is highlighted by the tangible results within the neighbourhood: community gardens, murals, public places rehabilitated; inclusion of young people; and the impact on other communities. Some of the social interventions have been in the areas of education, government and academics. This has been possible due to the formation of a pro-active civil society. There is heightened awareness of the environment through the improvement of the surrounding areas. Over 10,000 community members have been involved in strengthening the community bonds and promoting local identity and ethics such as tolerance, solidarity and integration of common differences. The most important indicator of success has been the development of trusting relationship between community and public organizations and creation of local spaces in order to develop active and dedicated citizens.

Due to the legitimacy and permanence of TAC in Cordillera Hill, the initiative has been able to impact in a positive way in public policies related to local and regional issues, such as Educational, Environment, Infancy and Housing policies. This community practice has been selected because it is a model of (re)construction of social fabric ties in a physically and socially deteriorated neighbourhood of Valparaiso. In addition, it presents a process of progressive ownership of public spaces and constitutes an inclusive city practice.

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