Advancing Advocacy

Date: 25 November 2013

Close your eyes and imagine a group of young people—many from the YMCA—huddled around a single computer; coffee, croissants, and colored papers scattered around the table. They are talking about how to empower youth around the world by defending their basic human needs.

Now imagine them as they ask questions and discuss with each other, using the internet to cross the Atlantic Ocean and a 6 hour time difference—from Nairobi to New York City and back. These young people come from 5 different youth organizations and 4 different continents. Yet despite their differences they are one global team of youth advocates brought together by the AD1+ Advocacy Initiative—a programme created and led by the World YMCA.

On October 11th and 12th, the AD1+ Advocacy Initiative launched its second session in New York City with 12 young leaders from the YMCA and partner ICMYO youth organizations such as Pax Romana, WOSM, WSCF, and WAGGS. The training—made possible through the European Youth Forum’s Solidarity Fund—aims to enhance youth participation and engagement in the United Nations by holding intensive advocacy workshops in 3 key UN cities: Nairobi, New York City, and Paris. Each training features hands-on sessions on advocacy techniques, justice theory, understanding policy, citizen journalism, and social media literacy, as well as a tour of the United Nations office where the young advocates could meet with United Nations officers and workers.

The project was designed to reverse a common trend in the development world. Instead of recruiting international experts to travel and talk about youth issues at United Nations headquarters, the vision was to directly train those individuals who know what young people need the most: young leaders living in these places themselves.

It is an ambitious vision that remains consistent with the YMCA’s committed focus on the grassroots level as the most important place of action, even at the global level. However, the vision does not simply stop at each of the local workshops. The objective of AD1+ is to link each youth advocacy team in these cities together, to form one sustainable team that will coordinate global efforts for youth around issues such as youth employment, health, and the environment. Through this big idea in action, the YMCA will be able to continue to strengthen the youth movement’s impact by putting committed young leaders in the place of action for the sake of young people’s rights everywhere..

The last session of the AD1+ Advocacy Initiative will take place on Nov. 22nd  and 23rd at the Scouts and YMCA headquarters in Paris, France, and will include a special visit to UNESCO headquarters.

Want to see more of the training? Go to our World YMCA flickr page here to see out the full set of photos from the AD1+NYC session.

By  Samuel Diaz Fernandez
World YMCA Communications and Advocacy Coordinator