International Youth Programs have been serving and advocating for young people from the very start.
The leaders borne from these Programs continue to be a catalyst within their local and national campaigns by
- Offering Guidance
- Implementing new Programs,
- and encouraging YMCA workers and stakeholders around the world to engage more with the global message of Youth Empowerment.
What are International Youth Programs?
Youth programs are unique events targeted at involving people aged 10 to 25 years.
All included Programs generally focus on Youth Development through leisure, social life, prevention, intervention, and training.
Participants in athletics, faith, community service, youth advocacy, adult development, and outdoor education may be active in Youth Programs.
The themes are usually youth empowerment, consumer rights, youth-led media, and freedom of women.
Youth Programs tend to focus on activities that typically rely on the place, community, gender, employment, and values of the individuals and organizations involved.
Government agencies, non-profit organisations, and businesses around the world deliver these services.
Such Youth Programs are about creating the whole person, from the inside out.
There is also a greater likelihood of physically healthy and active teens blossoming into academically driven, alert and successful adults.
They offer a youth experience that actively fosters success, friendships, and belonging. They create an environment that has a positive impact on youth development.
- ACHIEVEMENT: Thoughtful Programs and Activities help youth gain new skills, knowledge, and abilities; build confidence; and discover themselves.
- RELATIONSHIPS: Facilitation of relationships with and among youth, creating a space for them to make new friends
- BELONGING: Provision of a safe and inclusive environment, so that every youth feels welcome and finds a place to belong.
What does Youth Program stand for?
The ideology that drives Youth Development efforts— that building resilience and skills is key to helping adolescents manage adolescence in healthy ways — provides the basis for an exciting and innovative variety of Youth Programs.
In addition to preventing teenagers from participating in health-compromising activities, Youth Development Programs seek to build their skills and competencies.
They do this by increasing the access of participants to supportive and encouraging communities where activities create multiple opportunities for a variety of experience building skills and broadening horizons.
What happens in these Programs?
They believe in young people’s unlimited potential to use their thoughts, abilities and energy for the better. All around the world, such programs share a determination to empower young people with the resources they need to reach their potential and create a better future for all–from childhood to young adulthood.
They promote equality, social justice, and harmony for youth and their communities through four key areas — education, housing, civic engagement, and environment.
Youth development services aim to improve children’s and adolescents’ lives by addressing their basic physical, emotional and social needs and helping them build the skills needed to become successful adults.
Types of Youth Programs include
- Community Service
- Leadership Programs
- Exchange Programs
- Mentoring Programs
- Youth Centers
The Top 5 International Youth Programs of 2020 are :
1. UNESCO Youth Programs
The UNESCO Youth Program promotes youth participation in UNESCO action from development to implementation and follow-up, in their communities through the extension of youth-led programs, and through the incorporation of youth concerns and issues into the policy agenda.
To this end, UNESCO also supports youth spaces aimed at inspiring youth, facilitating and supporting their action, fostering collaborations, and ensuring recognition and visibility.
a) Youth Forum
The process of the Youth Forum is an essential part of the Youth Program of UNESCO.Since 1999 , it has created a groundbreaking forum for youth to participate in dialog with each other and with UNESCO, to provide input on the strategy of UNESCO and to present their concerns and ideas to Member States through the UNESCO General Conference, the highest decision-making body of UNESCO.
Every two years, young people come together and bring to the table their shared energy, imagination and vision. From the preparatory stages to the event itself at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, the UNESCO Youth Forum is created by and for young people.
This year, the Forum will be an opportunity to present and discuss good youth participation practices with UNESCO in the sense of the Youth Space Initiative or other youth initiatives produced with the help of the Organization.
b) Youth Spaces Initiative
The Youth Spaces Initiative (YSI) was initiated by UNESCO as a follow-up to the 10th UNESCO Youth Forum (2017), involving young people.
The YSI seeks to promote youth participation in their communities–with UNESCO, public authorities and other partners–including those youth who go unnoticed or have no opportunity to engage in civic action, in line with the goals of Agenda 2030.
Throughout YSI, as participants, allies and change-makers, youth are meaningfully active agendas: they lead the spaces and ensure their sustainability through youth-led action.
Click here to know more about UNESCO’s other Youth Programs.
2. World YMCA
World YMCA, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, supports local and national organizations to bring social justice and peace to youth and their communities, regardless of gender, sex, ethnicity or socio-economic background.
It supports YMCA’s efforts by:
- Strengthening the capacity of national movements to respond to social issues
- Advocating globally on issues affecting young people in collaboration with, and on behalf of YMCAs
- Characterizing YMCA at the global level with key stakeholders
- Coordinating YMCA emergency response efforts
3. YMCA Change Agent
The initiative of the YMCA Change Agent is a global leadership development programs to empower youth people in their own communities as change makers.YMCA Change Agents are young YMCA volunteers and/or YMCA employees globally who strengthen the YMCA to serve more people.
They engage in creative and life-changing opportunities for expanding youth services, including digital and face-to-face learning, mentoring and community project development. They learn skills to help improve their YMCA and community and build connections to a network of other young leaders from around the world.
Since 2014, 750 of our Change Agents have graduated from 67 countries around the world and are becoming the primary drivers of change in the world.
4. International Youth Exchange Program
Under the International Youth Exchange Program, young people from India are sent to a few friendly countries and vice versa to encourage the exchange of ideas, values and culture between young people from different countries as well as to build international understanding. The goal of this program is to build and include an international perspective in youth in fostering peace and understanding.
Upon finalizing the dates for Exchange Programs with the participating countries, the delegates visiting a particular country are selected. Such names were finalized at the Department of Youth Affairs, with the approval of the competent authority.
5. International Cultural Youth Exchange
For the following reasons, ICYE works differently from many gap year organizations:
- ICYE strongly believes in the importance of intercultural interaction and mutual exchanges. The Federations require volunteers from North and South to experience living, working in another culture / country.
- It is a federation of all local ICYE organizations: volunteers are only shared between countries where an established ICYE member or partner organization exists.
- It ensures better project partnerships and support for volunteers , as well as provides local youth with jobs and work experience.
- All ICYE leaders and affiliates are registered non-governmental organizations run by volunteers for volunteers.
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(Article contributed by Rishika Singh, Graphics by Anulipi Debnath for Precisely)
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