Monday, August 30, 2010

"Changing Lives Through Football" Competition Encourages Civic Engagement through Sport

by Christina Malliet

Co-hosts Nike and Ashoka Changemakers recently announced the winners for a global competition that unified the themes of sport, youth development and community involvement. The competition, called “Changing Lives through Football,” asked for proposals for projects that use football (soccer) to encourage unity and social change, especially among youth.

Running in conjunction with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the competition generated significant interest and received nearly 300 entries from places as far as Rwanda and Iraq to those as close as New York City. Three global winners and three regional winners, from Brazil, the UK and Africa, were announced August 25 on the Changemakers website.

The Grand Prize Global Winner entry, which intends to overcome discrimination and raise awareness for people living with HIV/AIDS, was submitted by the Indonesia-based organization Rumah Cemara. This entry was selected due to its potential for growth beyond the conceptual stage; Rumah Cemara implemented the idea over two years ago and has already seen its project significantly impact the West Java community it serves. The organization supports six teams of people living with HIV, which play against teams not from the HIV community. The weekly matches improve the confidence and health of those living with HIV, while raising awareness for others in the community. Rumah Cemara received $30,000 to fund their continued efforts.

Other winners include the Guatemalan organization love.fútbol, whose project aims to build soccer fields for at-risk youth to keep them off the streets and give them new opportunities, and FC Unity’s “Team Iraq”, designed to unite youth of different religious backgrounds and prevent future violence and extremism.

This promising competition draws attention to the ever-present necessity of engaging youth everywhere in their communities. The winning organizations encourage young people to get involved by speaking in the unifying language of sport.

Photo credit here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Appreciating Diversity through Youth Participation: The Situation Facing Young Muslims in the Middle East

CNN recently posted an article written by Esra'a Al Shafei, the founder of of about a platform she created to share young Muslim voices. Shafei is both concerned and appalled by the prejudices that young Muslims face, and the lack of advocacy and help, which led her to establish a platform where young Muslim voices could be heard. “I used Mideast Youth as a platform to make such voices heard in the global community, for people to realize that we are capable of thoughtful and reasoned discussions of our differences,” Shafei says, when examining the power of the online community.

Mainly, she wants to send the message that Islam does not discriminate against other beliefs, a prejudice that many young Muslims deal with. By promoting freedom of speech, Mideast Youth is a way for information to become readily accessible to young people and to give them a venue to express themselves and participate in valuable discussions.

This convergence via the Internet allows for Muslims to come together through positive online engagement, and to promote a dialog that goes beyond ethnic, religious or geographic boundaries. By creating an online safe haven, Esra'a Al Shafei has demonstrated how she is working to empower young Muslims in today’s times.

At ICP, we are also promoting the engagement of university students in their communities in several Muslim countries. ICP serves, with Tufts University, as Secretariat of the Talloires Network which offers incentives for outstanding programs in universities by awarding the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. In 2009, multiple Middle Eastern countries won first, second and third place, for programs that focus on the spread of knowledge throughout communities. The first place winner, who received $5,000, was the Urban Health Program based in Aga Khan University in Pakistan. Second place winners received $2,500 and included Université Saint-Joseph's Opération 7ème Jour (Operation 7th Day) in Lebanon, while third place winners received $1,000 and included the Alashanek Ya Balady program at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and The Human Rights Clinic at Al-Quds University in Palestine.

This year’s winners will attend the prize award ceremony on September 15, 2010, at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France. Two representatives – one staff member and one student – from each of the eight winning programs will attend the ceremony. Last year’s award ceremony brought together representatives from the top three programs; the addition of representatives from the third-place winners will make this year’s ceremony an even greater success.

This year’s first prize went to PuentesUC (Bridges UC) at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, second place went to Community Awareness Initiatives Responsibly-Directed by Engineers (CAIRDE) at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Program at the University of Mines and Technology (Ghana), and third place went to Community Builders at Wartburg College (USA), Humanity in Focus at the University of Hong Kong (China), Student Leaders for Service (SLS) at Portland State University (USA), Ubunye at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and Vidas-Móviles (Moving Lives) at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia).

Overall, whether a program is a hands-on initiative, or a web platform, today there are a lot of ways to positively engage young people worldwide. Youth participation is a powerful tool against prejudice and discrimination and it is clear that there is a multitude of opportunities for engaging young people worldwide.

What are you doing to promote diversity in your community?

Photo Courtesy of Flickr user Shazron

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Look into the Future for Young People: Gallup Student Poll Results 2009-2010

What do young people hope for? What do they look forward to in the future? Are they ready for the future? The Gallup Student Poll sought to answer these questions by polling approximately 450,000 students in America between the ages of 10-18, asking about their daily experiences and hopes for the future.

What constitutes “being ready for the future” exactly? The poll defined this as “being hopeful, and engaged, and thriving (i.e., the highest classification of well-being),” and came to the conclusion that one-third of young people in America are ready for the future. Meanwhile, another one-third are defined as “stuck” and 16% are “discouraged.” A part of the “stuck” or “discouraged” feelings may come as a result of a lack of engagement at school—meaning that a student is not maximizing their full academic potential—23% of students reported a lack of academic engagement, and an additional 14% reported being actively disengaged (what most of us would refer to as the school “troublemakers” according to the report).

What does this tell us? The poll suggests that youth engagement in school peaks in elementary school, but come middle school and high school, higher percentages of young people are no longer as interested in academics and learning as before. Interest in academics is only one aspect of how the poll measures student readiness for the future; however it is important to examine why it is an area that seems harder to keep high percentages in.

Even though the poll only focused on American students, countries worldwide often cite lack of education or educational opportunities as the main reason for high unemployment rates, and other forms of social unrest. In this case, the Gallup Poll shows an example of how low engagement in the classroom can directly affect how they feel about their futures. Many arguments have been made that a solution to this is the promotion of service-learning, and point to the positive connection between participation in service-learning and students’ connection to their community and their school.

Furthermore, students who participate in high quality service-learning programs show a greater increase in measures of school engagement and achievement in mathematics over control groups. Several studies show that students who engage in service-learning have higher attendance rates than control group peers. Of course the poll examines other aspects that make up the livelihood of a young person, such as well-being and hope, and while the poll cited that 70% of students are thriving, it is our civic responsibility to not let the other 30% slip through the cracks.

Here at ICP, our Summer of Service (SOS) program intends to address this exact issue by advocating service-learning. During the months when school is out, young people are at risk for becoming actively disengaged due to a lack of programs or activities for them. The target age group for SOS is young people who are in middle school, the same age which the Gallup Poll cites as the time engagement begins to drop. For reasons such as these, SOS aims to actively engage young people through service-learning and volunteerism, which they can do through a number of different ways.

In particular, one apparatus ICP will soon offer is the program design toolkit, -which provides the foundation for organizations or individuals to design and implement SOS programs in their respective communities. Additionally, ICP will also soon offer an Evaluation Toolkit, -which will allow those who have implemented SOS programs to effectively evaluate and track their progress and results.

Overall, it is clear that there is a need to engage young people regardless of age or school-level. The important part is that we all do our part to implement or support these sort of initiatives, so we can promote the well-being, livelihood and engagement of the future generation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Celebrating International Youth Day: August 12, 2010

Since 1999, August 12th has been known as International Youth Day (IYD2010). Each year, there is a theme associated with International Youth Day, this year’s being “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.” This year’s theme promotes and appreciates the variance of dialogue between different cultures and generations.

The day kicks off with an event that takes place at the UN headquarters in New York, while events take place worldwide in celebration of young people. The UN provides a list of ideas for various ways to celebrate, including concerts, art exhibitions and radio shows. Overall, the UN hopes to capture the energy and spirit of motivated young people, and celebrate their commitment to them.

Additionally, the International Year of Youth, which begins on IYD2010, promotes the enhancement of peace and development worldwide. There are several events taking place to celebrate, including the 5th World Youth Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, and the 2010 World Youth Conference in León, Guanajuato, Mexico. A large part of the International Year of Youth’s focus is also on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “which seek to slash a host of social ills, ranging from extreme poverty and hunger to maternal and infant mortality to lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.”

Additionally, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) is in the process of preparing for the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10) in 2011. Here at ICP, we were fortunate enough to interview IYV+10 Project Director Dr. Simona Costanzo Sow about UNV’s goals, what they hope to accomplish, and how to get involved whether you are an individual or an organization. Dr. Costanzo Sow even provided ways for anyone to get involved and volunteer, and discussed the future publication that the UN will release surrounding diversity and contribution of volunteerism on a global level. Her interview can be found in our Special Edition Newsletter that covers International Youth Day, IYV+10 and the International Year of Youth, and you can find the newsletter here.

Overall, through both IYD2010 and the International Year of Youth, the UN hopes to “generate much needed attention for youth participation and youth development,” by using the energy of those who participate in these events and celebrations.

Are you doing anything special for IYD2010? Let us know in a comment below!

Photo Courtesy of the UN

Friday, August 6, 2010

UK's New Youth Service Plan

On July 22, 2010, David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK launched the National Citizen Service program for 16 year olds. The program resembles a summer camp through which young people spend seven to eight weeks volunteering in a variety of ways. The summer camp includes a three-week session that is part out-door service challenges, part university courses and a week at home during which participants would analyze their communities’ needs and design a program to address them.

The pilot program will take place next summer, involving 10,000 participants. The motivation behind the program is to encourage young people to be more socially responsible and engaged in their communities. Though there are concerns that participants will mainly be upper and middle class young people who would have volunteered anyway, Cameron says that young people from all socio-economic groups will be involved.

“It’s going to mix young people from different backgrounds in a way that doesn’t happen right now,” said David Cameron during the program’s launch. Young people of all backgrounds will be exposed to volunteer service, communities in need and a sense of a greater British community in a way that will encourage them to work together and acknowledge each other’s skills and contributions as well as their own.

The program is part of Cameron’s “Big Society” philosophy which plans give greater control over community programs and services to the communities themselves, reducing the involvement of the central government. Four areas of the UK have become project areas where civil service manpower and expert organizers will be assigned to help communities achieve certain grassroots projects like recruiting museum volunteers and the community buy-out of a local pub. These, in addition to other projects, will serve to redistribute central government resources to local governments and projects.

Representatives from the British Youth Council approve of the plan, but want to make sure that young people have a voice in the construction and planning.
“We would have welcomed an opportunity to feed the views of our member organizations into the development of the scheme and will be debating its merits at our London Convention in the summer when we know more,” said the BYC chair, Alex Delaney. (, National Citizen Service launched for 16 year olds) Delaney also states that the program should attempt to reach people who wouldn’t normally volunteer, echoing other concerns voiced after the program’s launch.

Dame Elizabeth Hoodless, Executive Director of Citizen Service Volunteers and Chairman of the International Association for National Youth Service Global Council (she also serves on ICP’s Board of Directors), believes that this program will help alleviate some of the pressing issues in British society, such as youth unemployment and a high dropout rate for higher education. (, David Cameron unveils national service pilot scheme)

"Young volunteers report increased confidence, self-esteem and pride in doing something meaningful and purposeful in the community," said Hoodless, reacting to the program’s launch. (, Cameron outlines details of youth service plan)This renewed assurance that young people gain from volunteering will help them commit to and achieve other goals in addition to improving their employability and contributions to their communities.

Though funding for this program isn’t yet certain, next summer will hopefully see a new generation of committed volunteers in Britain, committing themselves to improving their own skills and confidence in addition to addressing their communities’ needs.

Photo credit here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Civically engaging young African leaders


In Africa, where young people make up the majority population in many countries, there are some promising opportunities for engaging young people in community service. These initiatives are showing the benefit of tapping into the enthusiasm of young people to improve and build their communities.

This week President Obama is also tapping into that cohort by hosting young leaders from over 40 sub-Saharan African nations to discuss the future for their society and what they hope to see within the next 50 years.

The event is a town hall meeting, and representatives will come from both governmental and private sectors. Discussions will likely examine transparency and accountability in government, as well as entrepreneurship and empowerment of each nation’s citizens.

Representatives are attending workshops at the State Department about education, freedom of expression, human rights advocacy, HIV/AIDS and other governmental and continental concerns. Representatives will also visit Capitol Hill, meet Members of Congress, visit the US Chamber of Commerce, and meet former Peace Corps volunteers. Additionally, in September there is a planned launch of a regional African Youth Volunteer Corps. The African Youth Volunteer Corps (AUYVC) intends to “promote youth participation, capacity building and empowerment through service and skills exchange driven by the philosophy of Pan-Africanism,” and will engage young Africans as volunteers in different African communities.

Through AUYVC, Africans aged 23-30 years will be able to find positions as interns, Junior Professional Officers or Volunteers within Member States of the African Union. The goal is that after four years the program will successfully have over 2,000 volunteers, from 70% of African countries.

This promising initiative is tapping into a valuable resource in Africa – it’s young people – to meet critical needs in communities throughout the continent. More resources about innovative service programs in Africa can be found on ICP’s Program and Policy Database.

photo courtesy of: Alex Johnson

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bermuda to Present National Youth Service Program at Global Conference

At the IANYS 9th Global Conference on National Youth Service this October in Alexandria, Egypt, professionals worldwide will gather to present and learn about innovative models of national youth service. One of the programs, the National Service Program in Bermuda that will be presented by the Government of Bermuda on an exciting panel looking at new developments in national service.

The Government of Bermuda established the National Service Program to encourage young people to feel a greater commitment to their communities and keeping them safe. The National Service Program is also a response to an increase in anti-social behavior and violence among the Bermudian young people. Participation in the service program will help young people in Bermuda gain skills to help them engage in fulfilling careers and community and national development.

The Government of Bermuda believes this program will also help combat feelings of entitlement which are prevalent among young people by placing them in a position to help those who have to work much harder than they do. The program will require all participants to give 16 hours of community service every month for two years.

"It's going to provide opportunities for young Bermudians to be able to broaden their scope and perhaps stem the feelings of entitlement that we seem to have engendered in this Country by requiring all young people to do some kind of national service," said the [Public Safety Minister David Burch], as reported by the Royal Gazette.

Young people are eligible until they are 30 years of age, but they must have registered prior to their 28th birthday. It is a voluntary program and is not a replacement for conscripted service, although men who have been conscripted can opt to apply for the volunteer program after one year of military service.

This program and panel are an excellent representation of what the IANYS Global Conference hopes to achieve. Bermuda’s representatives will have an opportunity to present their plan to the conference and receive important feedback from experts in the youth service field. Other participants in the conference will have the opportunity to learn about a new program and consider replicating the aspects of the program that are suited to their needs and develop their own ideas from the basis provided by the Bermuda National Service Program.

“Other nations will review our plan and take away those aspects which are of value to them. By the same token, our presence at the conference allows us to review the plans in other countries and compare ourselves. This is an excellent opportunity for us to identify what are we doing right and what can we improve upon," said Premier Ewart Brown to the House of Assembly. (Royal Gazette; July 26, 2010; Island's National Service Plan could become model scheme for the world – Premier)

The National Service Program in Bermuda has some interesting components, including a provision that encourages businesses to let their employees use one hour of work time per month for volunteer service. Participants would also be encouraged to spend their volunteer hours mentoring a younger peer at work so as to further develop employment skills. The scheme also works with existing programs and higher education facilities.

Through the program, volunteers get to decide what volunteer project they would like to work on, or they can let the program administration assign them to a project. Many of the projects involve passing on knowledge or experience that volunteers have gained through previous experience.

For example, those who work in the health, legal or financial sectors are encouraged to devote their time to passing on knowledge on nutrition and fiscal responsibility. Volunteers are also encouraged to tutor younger peers, work on project proposals or volunteer for pre-existing youth or senior organizations.

This program demonstrates the ways in which governments can use youth service schemes to ameliorate social and economic problems that many young people face throughout the world. Just as Bermuda is using a national youth service program to combat feelings of entitlement and anti-social behavior among young people, so can other countries use national service to combat the major challenges their young people face.

The IANYS conference presents a vital opportunity for governments, NGOs, international organizations and young people themselves to come together to collaborate on youth development and civic engagement.

Registration for the conference is available here and further information, including the preliminary conference agenda and conference fees, is available on the IANYS website.

Image source here.


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