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Youth journalists use video to urge action on child rights in the Caribbean

© UNICEF video
Youth journalists take to the street to shoot one-minute videos on child rights during the Council for Human and Social Development meeting in Guyana.

NEW YORK, USA, Guyana, 25 March 2008 – It’s time for action, not just talk: That was the message young journalists brought to the Caribbean Community’s Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) meeting last week in Georgetown, Guyana.

The youth delegates spoke out at the meeting – and showed off their video production skills – through a 15-minute TV news bulletin and a compilation of one-minute videos on corporal punishment, child labour, access to quality education and other issues of concern to them.

This second COHSOD special session on children was convened to discuss the many challenges faced by Caribbean children and young people, including early childhood development, child Protection, HIV/AIDS, and infant and maternal mortality.

The timing of the session – just after the halfway point to 2015, the target date set for realization of the Millennium Development Goals – was especially significant. For the Caribbean Community, it is a time to assess what progress has been made in achieving the MDGs and ensuring that child rights are supported by legislation and implemented in member states.

An on-site ‘media lab’

Youth journalists from Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago presented the conference with an informative range of videos produced via new technology known as The Digital Playground. This easy-to-use computer application allows users with even the most basic computer skills to make short, professional-quality videos.

The workshop where children produced their videos during the COHSOD meeting was organized in collaboration with Back Lot, a UNICEF-supported non-governmental organization. Working with just a digital camera and a laptop computer, participants had to complete each one-minute video within a one-hour period, with no outside input.

© UNICEF video
Young people speak at the Council for Human and Social Development meeting.

The youth newscast was also developed in the ‘media lab’ set up to accommodate young journalists during the three-day meeting.

“I think the presentation the adolescents have made today was of high impact for all the participants,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg. “It was lively, it was dynamic and it addressed issues that normally many don’t want to talk about. And I think it’s very important to bring that fresh air into the conference rooms.”

The right to a protective environment
In his remarks at the meeting, Mr. Kastberg pointed out that the Caribbean region has the world’s highest rate of homicides among 15- to 17-year-olds, as well as 42 per cent of the world’s gun homicides. In addition, he said, Latin America and the Caribbean have the world’s second highest teenage pregnancy rate, partly as a result of widespread sexual violence against girls.

Youth delegates to the COHSOD meeting – who live with these realities daily – called on government leaders to take action on the changes needed to improve young lives.

At the end of the meeting, ministers of the member states agreed to a programme of action aimed at improving the well-being of children throughout the Caribbean Community. In a far-reaching document entitled ‘The Georgetown Declaration’, they committed themselves to helping children realize the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child – including their right to live in a safe and protective environment, in order to grow into secure and socially productive adults.




28 March 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on the role of sport in reinforcing vital messages about HIV/AIDS to Guyanese youths.
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19 March 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on the youth journalists who produced videos for presentation at the COHSOD meeting.
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UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on youth input at the Council for Human and Social Development meeting in Guyana.
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