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UNICEF helps young activists from three regions in Turkey to develop leadership skills

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 19 September 2011 - Thirty very active young people from sixteen countries converged in Istanbul today to develop their leadership skills and establish a network for cooperation across a region spanning the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus.

The 18-30 year-olds are taking part in a week-long International Training Programme on “Youth Participation for Strengthening Social Coherence and Democracy” – part of a new UNICEF-backed initiative to empower young people across a broad geographical area.

All of the participants are active in youth movements or other civil society work in their own countries. Fourteen come from different parts of Turkey. The remainder were chosen through an inclusive and gender-sensitive selection process from among 250 applicants identified with the help of UNICEF offices in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, Palestine, Romania, Serbia and Syria.

New partnership

The International Youth Leadership Academy, which is organising the event, is a new partnership between UNICEF, Save the Children, Youth for Habitat (YFH), property investment company Corio, the Governorship of Istanbul, United Cities and Local Governments Middle East and West Asia Section (UCLG-MEWA), and the World Academy of Local Governments and Democracy (WALD).

Coordinated by YFH, the Academy aims to build the capacity and enhance the leadership skills of young people throughout the region so that they can work effectively within civil society in support of children’s rights and the UN’s policies for youth.

Heart, mind and hands

The words most frequently used by young people applying for the Training Programme were “respect”, “development”, “engagement”, “exchange” and “change”. At the opening session, UNICEF, Turkey Deputy Representative Regina De Dominicis told them that these were also the values of UNICEF.

“Leadership is a combination of heart, mind and hands; you have to have the vision, you have to have the will and you have to have the means,” she went on.
UNICEF Turkey has been providing technical support to Youth for Habitat for the development of curricula, and is conducting sessions on rights and participation as part of the Training Programme.

Other speakers at the opening ceremony included YFH President Başak Saral, Save the Children Director Holke Wierema, Corio President Gerard Groener, UCLG-MEWA and WALD Secretary General Mehmet Duman, Mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas, Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni and Dr. Basri Hakan Hakyemez, the Undersecretary of Turkey’s Ministry of Youth and Sports.

“Amazing people”

In addition to leadership training and the creation of w new network, the goals of the Programme include empowering young people to take an active and effective role in decision making processes at the local and national level, providing them with negotiating skills and sharing good practices in the area of child and youth participation. Participants have to pledge to put their new knowledge and skills into practice in their home countries and share them with other young people

“I am enjoying my participation in the training, creating connections and preparing a firm ground for future partnership,” commented Ashken Minasyan from Armenia. “Thanks a lot for providing this opportunity.”

“It's only the first day and the experience is marvelous,” said Razab Salhi from Jordan. “People here are amazing and open to exchange knowledge, I am looking forward to gaining more experience and friends as well."

 

 
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