| Peace Corps' rededication to youth: Addressing the needs of youth-at-risk |
Peace Corps officials have traveled to all the regions of the world, speaking with heads of state, government officials, Peace Corps staff about the needs of their respective countries and what additional roles the Peace Corps can play in development efforts.
Nearly everywhere, one strong and persistent response has been voiced-the need to address the burgeoning problems of children, mostly urban, in difficult circumstances, living on the streets and frequently subjected to the worst of a country's social and environmental ills.
Throughout mid-1990, a Peace Corps Youth Development Task Force examined the issues facing developing country youth through the filter of Peace Corps' mission and strengths. After consultation with professionals both inside and outside the agency, the Task Force recommended:
- continued support and expansion of traditional youth projects such as 4-H, scouting and sports;
- a new focus on urban troubled and forgotten youth, i.e., street children and school drop-outs who fall outside of traditional Peace Corps youth projects.
In April 1991, as a result of the Task Force recommendations, the organization was challenged to increase its assistance to youth by finding new ways to address their specific needs and by incorporating attention to youth in all programming whenever possible.
In honor of Peace Corps' 30th anniversary, 1991 was declared the agency's year of "Rededication to Youth," focusing on increasing Peace Corps' awareness of and commitment to addressing the problems faced by youth throughout the world.
The agency established the Youth Development Sector, within the Office of Training and Program Support (OTAPS), and made a commitment to provide funds, consultant expertise, and Volunteers to work with host countries in these vital areas. OTAPS, through the Youth Development Sector, supports the implementation of this new initiative by:
- providing youth-related information, technical assistance and training to all Peace Corps programs;
- advocating youth issues within the agency;
- linking Peace Corps' youth efforts to those of other national and international organizations.
In August 1991, all Country Directors were challenged to develop and/or expand youth programs in their own countries to address the needs of children in difficult circumstances. Three youth development pilot countries, Belize (Inter-America), Tunisia (PACEM), and Namibia (Africa), were selected to have primary access to technical resources provided by the Youth Development Sector including
- needs assessments;
- project development
- pre-service training &sign;
- in-service training design and implementation;
- project evaluation.
Youth development activities in these countries will be monitored and evaluated and the results will be shared with the field as an attempt to provide more effective programs.
In addition, Peace Corps staff of other countries who are giving serious consideration to developing youth projects have been urged to continue to promote youth development projects and to maintain regular contact with the Youth Development Coordinator.
This booklet is designed to give Peace Corps Country Directors, staff and Volunteers ideas and examples of how they can assist youth-at-risk through government agencies and private organizations working with youth in their host country.
The purpose of this booklet is to:
- sensitize Country Directors, staff, and Volunteers to the global and personal needs of youth-at-risk
- stimulate the interest of Country Directors, staff, and Volunteers in youth-at-risk programming possibilities.
- give Country Directors, staff, and Volunteers practical, realistic examples of how to initiate and/or expand youth-at-risk programming.
- illustrate that youth-at-risk programming is a legitimate development effort addressing the needs of a country's development plan.
The booklet begins with an overview of the problem of you that-risk followed by six scenarios. Each scenario is designed to stimulate thought about greater Peace Corps involvement in youth programs with projects already in place, as well as encourage the development of new program initiatives. They illustrate a range of possible program areas and Volunteer roles based on a composite of what other organizations around the world have done. Each scenario includes:
- a profile of a youth-at-risk affected by a specific problem addressed in that scenario;
- a problem statement;
- a discussion of the problem;
- a possible Peace Corps involvement in addressing the problem based on a hypothetical situation developed from the experiences of other organizations serving youth-at-risk in one or more countries.
The final section addresses the possibility of Volunteers working with youth-at-risk as a secondary assignment.