Real change does not come easy – young volunteers lead the way!

Publicado: 12 junio 2015 16:55 CET

By Nis Sperling, youth delegate, IFRC Europe

During the first week of June this year, 20 young Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia came together to find ways to inspire members of their communities to lead a more healthy life. One of the major health concerns facing Europe today is the increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Red Cross Red Crescent youth are in a unique positon to prevent NCDs by promoting healthy lifestyles among their peers. If we can promote healthy lifestyles early in life, lasting habits are created.

These young people, all of whom are already involved in health programmes of their National Societies, embraced the Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC) approach to better understand how to enable their peers to further promote positive behavioural change in their communities. This particular event combined the YABC approach with training on the prevention of NCDs. Participants were guided in how to become effective peer-educators, enabling them to engage with community members of all ages and provide them with guidance on why and how to lead a healthier and happier life.

Through the training activities and workshops, these young people learned about the primary NCDs and the risk factors to avoid if one wants to live a long and healthy life. Equally importantly, participants gained personal experience with peer-education and facilitation and will be able to use these skills to improve the services they provide in their National Societies.

Combining the successful YABC approach with training in specific programme areas, such as health promotion, is a forward step in youth-led and youth-driven development by the Red Cross Red Crescent. The aim remains to allow young people to realize positive change, not only in themselves, but in their communities.

Anano Skhirtladze from Georgia Red Cross Society was one of the participants at the event. Although the schedule of workshops and training was demanding, she found it a truly motivating experience.

“I can say without any doubt that each of us who participated in YABC gained new knowledge and after the seven intense days we discovered that something had changed; all of us had something new and very important to share back home with volunteers and staff members,” she shared.

Combining the YABC approach with topics such as NCD prevention will ensure that the Red Cross and Red Crescent youth volunteers are equipped, empowered and enabled to continue to make a real difference for the people we serve.

YABC initiative

Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change  is the IFRCs flagship initiative on the promotion of a culture of non-violence and peace.Created in 2008, this programme seeks to empower individuals to take up an ethical leadership role in their community.

Learn more