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|Brazilian adolescent boys and girls use drama to educate children to protect themselves from HIV, and to avoid the pitfalls of drugs and crime.|
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By Kun Li
NEW YORK, 26 May 2005 – Drawing on the experiences of teenagers who have helped their communities recover from crisis, UNICEF recently released a new publication: ‘Adolescent Programming in Conflict and Post Conflict Situations’ (pdf).
The publication provides a set of recommendations for encouraging adolescents to participate in helping their countries emerge from the shadows of conflict, as well as in helping their communities to thrive and grow during times of peace.
Commenting on the significance of the publication, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said: “It’s very important to involve adolescents. Participation is one of the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
The publication calls upon governments and community leaders to tap into this under-utilized source of energy. Adolescents can be involved in a range of programme activities, including media and advocacy, sports for development, HIV/AIDS awareness, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former child soldiers into their communities.
The publication is based on research conducted by UNICEF in eight countries or territories, including Somalia, Angola, Colombia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Albania and Indonesia.
One example of how adolescents can contribute is from Angola, where UNICEF has been working with 30 youth-run organizations in 10 provinces, encouraging young people to make HIV prevention a part of their lives.
The project trains young peer-to-peer counsellors and educators, who then provide HIV/AIDS education to other young people. An estimated 240,000 young people were sensitized regarding HIV transmission and prevention in 2002 alone.
Ms. Salah emphasized the importance for UNICEF of actively involving adolescents in its programming work. “If we don’t do it now, we will miss an entire generation.” UNICEF is working to help adolescents realize their own full potential, contribute to their communities and act as a driving force for the organization’s work for children throughout the world.