| Peace Corps' rededication to youth: Addressing the needs of youth-at-risk |
A Volunteer who has available time may take an interest youth-at-risk and through regular contact begin to understand their needs and be moved to help them. Many of the "Possible Peace Corps Activities" discussed in each of the scenarios above can provide ways for Volunteers to become involved in youth development activities.
In addition, rural Volunteers in fields such as agriculture fisheries, or the environment might link up with urban street kids by operating rural weekend outings in which the street children are exposed to new ideas, skills, values of family a community, and fellowship with rural youth.
The understanding gained from this direct contact with youth- at-risk is essential in effectively meet individual needs and plan services to programs. Through this contact, a Volunteer m be a catalyst or link in bringing the needs of street children other youth-at-risk to the attention of those many individual or organizations who can help.
Peace Corps Volunteer sand staff should be cautioned, however to use wisdom in when and how deeply Volunteers become involved with these youth. There is the risk of setting up artificial support system that may disappear when the Volunteer leaves. Emotional attachments to such youth can become strong and may distract Volunteers from accomplishing their primary project activity. Furthermore, Volunteers may not have the training, expertise, or resources to aid with certain problems.
Some cultures may object to foreigners being involved with "their kids" or clearance may be needed from the local government. Culturally sensitive issues such as AIDS and sex education, for example, may be handled better by local people. AIDS experts encourage foreigners to seek and/or train local people to provide such education.
Most Volunteers should use what they learn from working with youth-at-risk to establish or contribute to on-going projects. Because of the short-term nature of such Volunteer contacts, Peace Corps staff should monitor these secondary activities to assess the potential for developing a primary Peace Corps project.
This programming guide was written by Charles Wattles under contract to Peace Corps' Office of Training and Support.