UNDP Ukraine
Mar 20 · 6 min read

Opportunities to develop ourselves not only boost our competence, but also make us happy through self-actualization. How do you help young people unlock their creative potential, and become full contributors to the development of their communities? Non-formal education is an effective tool for this.

On the occasion of the International Day of Happiness, we would like to show you some examples of initiatives that were successfully implemented by participants in the civil education course for youth workers. Learn how they are developing youth councils, helping young people run advocacy campaigns, launching environmental and human rights initiatives, and involving schoolchildren and university students in civil activities by using various tools of non-formal education.

Effective youth councils in communities — mission accomplished

Youth councils have been sprouting up in Ukraine over the last few years. However, often these councils were rather ineffective or were even closed after a while — mainly because council members did not know their capabilities, and the powers and tools available to them.

“Just creating a youth council is not enough,” said Anastasia Demianchuk, a youth worker and the initiator of the initiative “A Youth Council Takes Action,” who lives in the town of Kivertsi in Volyn Oblast. “You need to help young people learn about the tools they can use to influence local politics.”

Photo credit: Youth council of the Kivertsi amalgamated territorial community

A special programme was launched for members of the youth council of the Kivertsi amalgamated territorial community, with a view to enhancing the council’s potential. The programme taught them about advocacy, effective communication skills, and the tools the council can use as an advisory body.

This has enabled the youth council to participate more actively in local policy-making, by, among other things, analysing the needs of young people in their community and proposing amendments to the development strategy of the Kivertsi amalgamated territorial community and the special-purpose programme for the young people of Kivertsi.

Young helpers of police officers in Volyn Oblast

If you see a police officer together with schoolchildren in the city of Lutsk, don’t jump to conclusions. No one is misbehaving. In actual fact, this is to do with a new educational programme entitled ”Beat Officer Assistant”, which provides special training for teenagers. These training activities are organised by beat officers and the Youth Centre of Volyn Oblast.

Photo credit: Patrol Police of Volyn Oblast

Fifteen high school students from Lutsk School №17 have already received this training. This enabled them to conduct, themselves or together with beat officers, themed quests and training sessions on civil education, personal safety, and traffic rules for other schoolchildren.

Photo credit: Patrol Police of Volyn Oblast

“We seek to dispel misconceptions about police officers and to improve the legal education of young people,” said Oksana Romaniuk. Romaniuk is a youth worker and the initiator of the training project, which was jointly implemented by the Patrol Police of Volyn Oblast; the Youth Platform, an NGO; Volyn Oblast Library for Young People; and the schoolchildren’s council of school №17.

How young people from Novovolynsk started to think ecologically

“Developing critical thinking and widening your knowledge are essential to modern education,” said Pavlo Medyna, a youth worker and head of the New Wings resource centre.

With a view to supporting non-formal education, the resource centre initiated a soft skills project for students of the Novovolynsk Electromechanical College. Teaching people how to think ecologically aims to promote responsible consumption and waste sorting.

Over two months, students attended training events on leadership and communications, as well as on how to sort waste properly and consume responsibly.

Photo credit: NGO“New wings”

The knowledge gained was immediately put to practice — students, together with their teachers, made a map of their college and drew up a waste sorting programme.

That marked the beginning of waste sorting in the college, and the implementation of the first project on student’s self-governance in the town of Novovolynsk.

Important things presented in the form of games

How do you boost knowledge and critical thinking among young people who are engaged in the financial, tax and political fields?

A team from Dzhem Toloka, an NGO in the town of Pereyaslav Khmelnytskyi in Kyiv Oblast, has started holding board game evenings entitled “The World of Communities.” These events have provided leaders of schoolchildren’s and students’ self-governance bodies and the town’s workers and volunteers with the opportunity to hone their skills in critical and creative thinking, cooperation, communications, and the rapid analysis of new information, while playing games.

Photo credit: NGO “Dzhem Toloka”

The board game “The World of Communities,” which aims to encourage people to develop their own town and community, enables one to play the role of a mayor, resolve the most urgent issue for a community, and to skilfully manage budget funds.

How can one deploy an advocacy campaign to have a school gym constructed?

“Is the gym equipment my child uses in good repair? Is there any training equipment in the school gym?” asked Viktoria Liovkina. Ms. Viktoria is a youth worker and the leader of the initiative “I support the development of sports in the village of Shulhivka.”

A visit to the school gym revealed that all of the equipment was in a state of disrepair, making it impossible for schoolchildren to engage in any sports activities there.

Photo credit: Shulhivka ATC

After completing a course on civic education for youth workers, Ms. Viktoria came up with the idea to draw up, together with young people, a draft decision of the regional council to allocate funds to prepare the project and budget estimates for the construction of a gym in the Shulhivka Teaching and Educational Centre.

The Petrykivka District Council adopted a decision to allocate funds for the construction of the gym, thanks to an advocacy campaign conducted by local young people.

The stories told by youth workers provide yet more proof that every young person can realize their own potential, implement initiatives, and attain success, by learning how to deploy community participation tools.

Partnerships to support young people

Since 2014, UNDP has been providing support to the Youth Worker state programme. This is a platform for joint learning, communications and providing professional support to specialists who work with young people in the civil society and state sectors. The programme was initiated by Ukraine’s Youth and Sports Ministry, the State Institute for Family and Youth Politics, and UNDP. Since UNDP started to support the programme, almost 3,000 youth workers from across Ukraine have completed it.

Since 2018, a special course “Civil Education for Youth Workers” has been running as part of the programme. This course enables youth workers to help young people be more active community members, understand human rights and their own identity, develop an interest in social processes, apply critical thinking to these processes, and become drivers of these processes themselves.

In 2019, these training sessions were organized in Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk and Kyiv oblasts, jointly with local administrations and youth organizations. Some of those who completed the course received financing, through taking part in a contest, for the implementation of initiatives on civil education for young people in their communities. The NGOs that are members of the civil society hub network helped these youth workers bring their ideas to life.

Text: Anna Mysyshyn, Anna Ostrikova, Tetyana Kononenko

You can also read this article in Ukrainian

UNDP Ukraine

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