May 8 is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Youth on the move is the theme for 2012 and we are calling upon young people to build on the existing Youth on the move initiative by taking action in one of three areas: 1) helping communities better prepare in the face of increasing disasters, 2) addressing health care in danger or inequitable access to health care, or 3) building a culture of non-violence and peace. Here is one example of Red Cross Red Crescent youth in action.
Youth initiative – promoting humanitarian behaviour
In collaboration with the Belgian Red Cross, the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) youth department launched the “Dissemination of Humanitarian Norms” (DHN) project. Directed at children and youth between the ages of six and 18, the DHN project encourages young people to think carefully about the consequences of conflicts, embrace humanitarian behaviours, become responsible citizens and act according to Red Cross Red Crescent principles. The project started in 2009 and continues to be active in local communities today.
Disseminating Humanitarian Norms – for a culture of non-violence and peace
The DHN project seeks to increase respect for diversity, tolerance and solidarity among the different communities in Lebanon by organizing national activities and events across the country’s 34 youth centers and mobilizing Red Cross volunteers.
• In 2011, a “Peace Festival” produced by the LRC youth team was a successful three-day event that spread the message of peace and humanitarian values to youth and children through creative and interactive activities. These included workshops reaching 150 participants between 16 and 30 years of age. Components of the IFRC’s Youth as Agents of Behavioral Change (YABC) programme was used to foster non-violent communication, critical thinking and intercultural dialogue in the workshops. A 4 km “Run for Peace” in downtown Beirut promoted a culture of non-violence and peace.
• The “Child Festival” is a free event organized annually by the LRC youth team to sensitize children between the ages of six and 15 on topics such as stereotyping, discrimination, respect for others and non-violence through entertaining activities.
• In another activity, the youth team and local community members broke the Guinness World Record for the largest hand printed canvas (4,500m2) ever created. With the help of 12,700 participants, each handprint represented every individual’s commitment to respect diversity, non-violence and non-discrimination.
• Other community activities included training 120 YABC peer educators and the implementation of role playing activities such as Raid Cross (the dissemination of international humanitarian law through role play) and On the Run (role playing to increase tolerance towards refugees and immigrants).
Key achievements and the way forward
As its name suggests, the Disseminating Humanitarian Norms project focuses on promoting humanitarian norms among Lebanese youth through socio-educational activities, so they can embrace and act in accordance with the Fundamental Principles of the Movement. The project has successfully reached 101,000 young people and mobilized 750 volunteers across the country.
A new phase of the project has recently been launched with a focus on humanitarian norms, principles and values. Looking to the future, the LRC youth team will focus on long-term projects such as maintaining the popular “Child Festival” annually, and making the “Peace Festival” an annual event. The Lebanese Red Cross youth team will continue to promote and celebrate peace and humanitarian values in local communities to bring the Lebanese people together.