Development Components of the Youth Leaders in Action Program

The Canada World Youth (CWY) Youth Leaders in Action program has four development components that compliment and build on its youth exchange element: local development projects, youth leaders initiatives, inter-institutional capacity building and learning forums.

The goal of the Youth Leaders in Action program is to increase the capacity of youth, partner organizations, and communities to collectively participate in and benefit from community-driven development initiatives.

The specific objectives of the Youth Leaders in Action development components are to:

  • Strengthen community-level responses to basic health and environmental challenges through the sustained participation of youth in local initiatives.
  • Increase the capacity of youth, with a focus on the inclusion of young women, to play meaningful roles in the sustainable development of their communities, including the protection and enhancement of basic health and the environment.
  • Increase the capacity of Southern youth-serving organizations and institutions to design, implement, and evaluate programs of excellence for youth volunteering in the sectors of basic health and the environment.
  • Promote cooperation and collaboration among and between youth-serving organizations and organizations working in the sectors of basic health and the environment in the North and South.
  • Promote linkages and networks among and between the youth of Canada and the Global South to collectively address key development challenges in the sectors of health and the environment.

Below is more information on the five elements of the Youth Leaders in Action program:

  1. Reciprocal International Youth Exchanges

    To find out more about this component of the program, please click here.

  2. Local Development Projects

    Framed by the Millennium Development Goals, and inspired by community consultations, CWY and its international partners approach their development objectives by means of youth-led health and environment projects. Volunteers participating in international exchanges are invited to work with the local community on the development project put in place in the area.

    In Peru, youth groups are working with our local partner, Brigada de Voluntarios Bolivarianos del Peru, local families and community stakeholders to build eco-fridges and eco-stoves, appliances that do not require electricity to work. Water evaporation is used in the fridges to remove heat and cool the inside in order to ensure that the food remains preserved. Such fridges are easy to build, require minimal labour, use mainly local resources, are inexpensive, and inspire people to learn more about the health impacts of their eating habits.

    In South Africa, young people work with our local partner organization, the Volunteer Center, to improve the health status of young people by creating safe homes that are free from domestic violence and drug abuse. The project also aims to lower the rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the community. The group raises awareness through street parades, drama presentations, public debates, pamphlet distribution, door-to-door campaigns and the media.

  3. Youth Leaders Initiatives

    These initiatives are local development initiatives that are led and managed by youth, and supported our local partner organization. The young people who take on these initiatives benefit from seed funding from CWY and from mentorship and training from local partner organizations. Youth Leaders Initiatives seek to empower youth, provide opportunities for concrete skills development and address local development issues.

    An example of such a project is the one currently taking place in Palca, Peru, where a group of five youth aged 15 to 18 have begun producing yogurt and jam using regional products. Currently, the local population consumes high levels of carbohydrates and limited amounts of proteins and vitamins. This initiative, therefore, improves nutrition in the area as well as supports the local economy. One hundred and fifty children from the community are benefiting from the yogurts and jams which are sold at low cost, and 30 children from underprivileged families receive the products for free, as a social engagement gesture from the group.

  4. Inter-Institutional Capacity Building

    This component of the program provides funding to our partner organizations according to a capacity development plan that meets their organizational and local needs as well as their development priorities. This capacity building funding focuses on improving the efficiency, efficacy, relevance, financial sustainability and gender equity practices of the organization.

    To date, as a result of this funding, 80% of CWY’s partners have reported an increase in capacity to deliver health and environmental sustainability development projects that directly engage youth and community members.

  5. Learning Forums

    Learning forums are designed to increase the capacity of CWY and its international partners by providing an opportunity for a knowledge exchange on youth-centered development programming. The themes are determined according to an annual needs assessment sent to all participating organizations.

    In 2010, CWY hosted its first international learning forum, which brought together 70 international and Canadian partners, youth volunteers, alumni, and development sector specialists from 15 different countries. It provided participants with the opportunity to share experiences, identify best practices and lessons learned, explore common themes and emerging issues, network, and strengthen partnerships. A full report of the event is available here.

    In 2011, a regional learning forum was hosted in South Africa, which brought together CWY partners and youth representatives from the Eastern and Southern Africa (Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania). Partners committed to establishing a network of support to promote the long-term viability of activities under the Youth Leaders in Action program, which have proven to be a successful model for contributing to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and raising the profile of youth volunteering.

    In 2012, a regional learning forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The event was a platform to strengthen links between organizations who partner with CWY (SYTO-Benin, SYTO-Ghana, KENVO and UVIKIUTA) to implement the Youth Leaders in Action program. It also allowed CWY and its partners to make a meaningful contribution to the Africa Conference on Volunteer Action for Peace and Development, which was attended by over 25 organizations including regional integration bodies, government representatives, and members of the private and NGO sectors. As confirmed by many delegates, this was a true inter-institutional capacity-building exercise, enhancing South-South collaboration to empower youth to be agents of change. A full report of the event is available here.

Learn more about CWY’s approach to development, youth leadership and partnership by clicking on this link.

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