Young and Ready to Lead for Change for Children
The next generation of volunteer leaders gain the tools to launch their volunteer projects
Passionate young leaders in Thailand seek to develop their communities through volunteer work under UNICEF’s Volunteer Leader programme. The first cohort of volunteer leaders reached over 2,700 children, parents and caregivers across Khon Kaen, Nakhon Pathom, Mukdahan and Chiang Mai provinces in 2020. This year, the second cohort of 12 enthusiastic leaders were selected from over 390 applications.
UNICEF provided leadership training totaling 23 hours so that the volunteer leaders could be fully confident in starting their own projects. Training started with a virtual orientation where they met with UNICEF staff to learn about UNICEF's work for child rights, such as its child protection programme. The next training equipped volunteer leaders with knowledge on child safeguarding policy in volunteering. They learned that when implementing their projects, the best interests of the child must always come first. They were also trained on leadership, design thinking and project management.
“Although this is our first time learning about programme development, these workshops made us feel confident that we can carry out our own programmes,” said volunteer leader Ohm.
The Volunteer Leader programme serves as a road map to ensure these young people have all the support and tools they need to turn their passion into action. They can then work independently or as a team and consult with UNICEF staff in designing and implementing their projects.
Volunteer leader Krungkring has a vision for a society where everyone can talk about their mental health challenges in the same way they can tell a friend that they have the flu and need to see a doctor.
“I want to normalize the problem of mental health through social media. With the training and support from UNICEF, my vision has become more real," she said.
Volunteer leader Jan has connected with like-minded volunteer leaders and law students from Chulalongkorn University to empower youth and launch an online talk series about human rights and laws on online bullying, sexual harassment and whistleblowing.
"Being a part of a team and having other leaders brainstorm with me helps me understand a problem from various perspectives. We communicate democratically by having open communication, sharing concerns, debating evidence-based decisions and then consulting with UNICEF staff for next steps,” she said.
The impact of the volunteer leaders’ projects for children, parents and caregivers will be measured through reach and engagement as well as satisfaction surveys. This will help volunteer leaders see the impact of their hard work and learn lessons for future projects.
Last year, the projects of the first Volunteer Leader programme focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrated how a single leader can transform a community. Volunteer leader Thomas inspired 663 children in 12 villages in Khonkaen Province to destress during the pandemic. He helped distribute colouring books, stationery and exercise equipment, as well as hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap, to keep children healthy and learning while at home.
Thomas shared his experience with the next generation of volunteer leaders, observing that “the key to project success is determination" and encouraging them to persevere despite the challenges as "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Problems are everywhere and it’s easy to wait for others to take notice and fix them, but that is not the case for our volunteer leaders. With the support of UNICEF, they refuse to take these problems for granted and are eager to make visions of a better world a reality for every child – so stay tuned for their exciting projects!