UNICEF in Action
Young people were empowered with the necessary skills on how to identify local problems, develop an action plan and projects in response to these problems, seek out and mobilise existing resources to address these problems at the local level, implement these projects using available resources, and express themselves through the media.
The Children and Youth Parliament
The Children and Youth Parliament of Georgia is one vivid example of children and youth participation in the decision-making process. The project was implemented by the Department of Youth Affairs and the Children's Federation, with the support of UNICEF.
The Parliament is elected for two years. The first Children and Youth Parliament functioned in 2000-2001. The second project was implemented in 2003-2005. The two-chamber Parliament consists of 132 children and young people from all over Georgia.
During the two year duration of the project, young parliamentarians learned about participation, children’s rights, the parliamentary system, the constitution, human rights and civil society. The members of the parliament established close and productive relations with the Georgian authorities and participated in the work of various state commissions, elaborating certain laws and policies regarding youth. In these regards, the members of the parliament were able to participate in the decision-making process. Young parliamentarians worked closely with respective ministries and actively partook in the elaboration of laws regarding school self-governance and harmful influences on children. These laws were finalised only after considering the views of
In February 2005, the Children and Youth Parliament held its last session. However, young parliamentarians, now members of a newly established NGO, continue their active work.
Youth Resource Centres
In 2000-2003, UNICEF supported the establishment of several youth resource centres in the three Georgian regions, Gori, Kutaisi and Ozurgeti. The centres aimed at assisting youth in building skills for meaningful participation. The centres functioned at a regional level and acted as information and knowledge centres for children and youth; the youth centres continue to operate and function as main partners for UNICEF in their respective regions.
More than 5,000 young people from the three established centres have acquired basic skills for participation and have obtained knowledge on child rights and healthy lifestyles for youths.
Sports for Development
Initially, the UNICEF office supported a football programme aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among school children. While sport activities were previously established program elements in school curriculum, UNICEF elaborated the benefits of sport curriculum by launching what has become an annual event—a children and youth football championship, tied to the ‘President’s Cup’ (an award) in Georgia. Local tournaments between schools were organised, thus far enabling 45,000 students (ages 12 to 15) from 2,000 schools to participate. In 2003, the programme was extended for female participation.
Additionally, a programme was devised for the poorest regions of the country to reach the most disadvantaged children. UNICEF disseminated educational reading materials on healthy lifestyles, supplied football equipment and rehabilitated playing fields, affording socially vulnerable and disadvantaged children the opportunity to enjoy a game of football, as advantaged children in better-off urban areas are able to.
Life and Livelihood Skills
In cooperation with Save the Children and in consultation with local and international NGOs a special manual on life and livelihood skill for young people in non-formal education settings was developed. A peer educator training team composed of six master trainers trained 30 youth leaders from youth centers throughout Georgia. Through the peer-education young people will be encouraged to practice responsible decision making related to healthy lifestyle, to be prepared to be parents, to have skills for seeking livelihood opportunities.