When it comes to youth advocacy, there are many reasons why people choose to get involved. For some, it may be a personal experience with a child who has gone through challenging circumstances. For others, it may be a sense of purpose and fulfillment in advocating for children. And for some, it may be a belief in the power of community and the desire to be part of a movement working towards a common goal of improving the lives of children.
For me, I chose to join youth advocacy because of a strong sense of empathy for vulnerable children who are facing challenges. I am passionate about helping children because I believe they are like seeds - the more we invest in them, the more we are assured of our leaders and heroes of tomorrow. Children from vulnerable families are depending on us to break the cycle of poverty through access to quality education.
Empathy is a powerful tool that can drive people to act. When someone has a strong sense of empathy for children who are facing difficult circumstances, they may feel a deep sense of compassion and a desire to make a difference. But one must be equipped beyond having empathy; addressing the issue holistically requires more steps including understanding the root causes of the problem, the social, economic, and political factors that contribute to it, and understanding the channels and techniques used in advocacy.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interact with participants of YACT (Youth Advocacy Cascading Training) and it was an amazing experience. I met incredible young people who are doing wonderful work in our communities. They are doing their best to make a better world, and we all have a vision to build the Rwanda we want. It was inspiring to see the participants showing a lot of enthusiasm and interest in the training materials and activities, which indicates that they are actively engaged and motivated to learn. As a trainer, it was exciting to see the impact of the training on their lives and how easily the participants built strong connections and relationships.
"Advocacy work can seem overwhelming, but it all starts with taking a bold step."
Advocacy can seem daunting, but there are several ways that youth can advocate for their chosen causes despite the limitations they often face. Here are some tips to get started:
- Build a strong network/alliances: Connect with like-minded individuals and organizations who share your passion and can help amplify your voice.
- Don’t be afraid to go big/never doubt yourself: Approach people and even go ahead to knock on their doors to show them why they need to be part of your cause.
- Leverage social media and other online platforms: Raise awareness about your cause, engage with others, and mobilize support. Be strategic with whom you involve in your work.
- Be creative and resourceful: Come up with innovative ways to advocate for your cause, such as organizing virtual events, launching crowdfunding campaigns, or creating viral social media challenges.
In conclusion, advocacy work can seem overwhelming, but it all starts with taking a bold step. If you have a passion for advocating for children, take that first step and join a youth advocacy group, attend training, or start your own initiative. Remember, every effort counts, and with determination and hard work, we can make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children.