Young people can make a difference – but leaders need to “let go”

Publié: 17 novembre 2013 9:56 CET

Young people from Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies in China, Iran, Kenya, Georgia, Pakistan, Uganda and Chile all received prestigious Youth Awards and commendations at the 19th General Assembly of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Sydney, Australia.

The Red Cross Society of China and Iranian Red Crescent Society received awards for their great potential in taking the Red Cross Red Crescent message to young people, a big step forward for humanitarian values in these contexts.

The Red Cross Society of China is integrating first aid and disaster risk reduction to empower young people to live the seven Fundamental Principles as part of their daily lives. The Iranian Red Crescent Society has achieved great success in helping vulnerable young people in prisons and correction centres to address communities as agents of behavioural change. The programme targets particularly deprived and isolated communities close to borders.

Red Cross Red Crescent Societies in Kenya, Georgia and Pakistan won awards for working with people to support health and climate change programmes.

In Kenya, youth groups and volunteers are working with community members to help them understand how their lives can improve through sustainable environmental management. Volunteers, youth leaders and beneficiaries are the targets for the Red Cross Society of Georgia ‘Go Green’ project that aims to raise climate change awareness in the country. And in Pakistan, young people target high risk areas such as garbage piles, road side barbers and social smoking groups to raise awareness of the health risks posed by refuse, unsanitised razors, and smoking.

Kenya Red Cross was commended for enlisting the help of a youth football league to battle drug and substance abuse and the spread of HIV.

The Uganda Red Cross Society and Chilean Red Cross Societies also won Youth Awards for their work in helping young people reduce the digital divide.
A free SMS-based reporting system developed byThe Uganda Red Cross Society has been a great success in assisting young Ugandans to speak out and report on a digital platform that brings together youth initiatives in all regions of the country.

Mr Bekele Geleta, IFRC Secretary General, believes the key to success for the award winners is the extent to which they are integrated in decision-making at all levels in their organizations.

“The young people who developed these innovative programmes have one thing in common,” said Mr Geleta. “They have decision-making ability, influence and the interest of leadership in their Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies. Leaders of all organisations that want to engage young people must ensure they are involved at every level of decision making; they must let go of their pre-conceived notion of where a young person fits.”