Agency of youth is being developed as a key strategy for promoting value of education and rights of children. Adolescents are being trained on communication and advocacy for social change and equitable access to services for education, health, nutrition, sanitation and protection. Youth meets reaching out to 800-1000 adolescents are being organised at block level as platforms for strengthening their voice.
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Two day Youth Meets were organized in altogeher 4 blocks of Malda and Purulia in Juky. Adolescents who are members of various flagship programmes like Kanyashree Bahini, Child Caninets, RKSK peer educators, SABLA, Meena Manch participated. Each day saw gathering of 500+children who used music, dance, art and theatre to talk on child marriage, importance of completing school education, balanced diet, peace and amity.
200+ children have been trained on effective communication through art and theatre to strengthen peer communication and mobilization skills for leading advocacy for their rights. Theatre based activities were used to improve their imagination, body language and negotiation skills.
The young ones prepared skits, posters, slogans and jingles to communicate with their peers. They also presented group songs, dance, recitations and skits. They also took up evidence building and reporting to capture the indicators for monitoring progress and capture positive change stories on adolescent issues.
The design of the Youth Meet was edutainment based. There were stall based activities, interactive sessions on improving self efficacy, cultural programs, art work and installations. The trained adolescents managed the stalls on a variety of relevant themes like education, health, protection and moral values. They also conducted interactive games, quiz session to assess the knowledge of the young visitor.
Activities like the talking doll and magic shows were fun for them while also raising social issues like health, sanitation, education, child marriage etc. Fusion rock, folk music, traditional dances and songs was part of the cultural programs. The cultural programmes were designed to be interactive and participative.
Adolescents participating in the Youth Meet brought their thoughts, expressions, aspirations to light through their notes, mural paintings, and debates. Those who participated in the capacity building workshops created a Whatsapp group among themselves to keep in touch and share their learning with their other peers. They have also expressed their interest in organising more programs in future to the officials of district administration. According to them the workshops and meets helped them break away from preconceived notions and social conditioning on issues like gender disparity. They felt happy about using art and theatre in understanding and articulating their own aspirations for building a safer and happier environment for themselves.
The young people have started taking action on ground. They have prevented child marriage and motivated dropout children and their parents for their readmission. Media has been supportive of their initiative and has covered their actions as a means of inspiring more adolescents to join hands.
The adolescent groups have been linked with the social media run by the district Social and Behaviour Change Communication Cell to keep themselves abreast of the different activities in their district. The youth meet provided them a platform where they gained knowledge. It helped them to differentiate between certain myths and misconceptions regarding health, education, gender equality and social norms. They are also very happy to pass on their learning among others. They have said that the whole process has boost up their confidence and self efficacy. They have gained a sense of responsibility and accountability for assessing the benefits of various government schemes and entitlements.