This week UNICEF worked with 18 adolescents who are representatives of the Children Advisory Board in the nine municipalities across the country. They have been meeting with various UNICEF partners that work with and support programs for children and adolescents. This week they worked to identify main concerns or issues affecting the young people. In the process, they helped stakeholders understand these issues. Dr. Susan Kasedde, UNICEF Country Representative in Belize told us more about the project.
Dr. Susan Kasedde – UNICEF Country Representative
“We have been talking with them to better understand these issues so that we can inform how we build an effort to engage the entire country dialogue around these particular issues and what we can do to address them specifically and to make Belize a safe and more supportive space for these teenagers. We are building on work that has already been started, UNICEF has worked with partners in Belize to really strengthen work for early childhood survival, we do a lot of work on early childhood development and education but increasingly we here in Belize but also across the clob are recognizing that we need to maintain equal attention to children as they transition from early childhood and go through their teenage years because their experiences are different they are different as they grow older but they also have increased capacity to shape the programs that we build so what we are trying to do is to build on what we’ve done but to build better through including adolescents in the process of program design as we are doing this week so that our program response can respond better to their realities. We want to make sure that the assumptions going into our advocacy into our program support are really responding to the most pressing experiences now.”
The effort will be ongoing and the young people will play an active role in the design of the programs and will also be supporting the implementation of the communication efforts in the local municipalities. Taking part in this week’s discussion was consultant Lawrence Lartey, a creative director and senior lecturer from London who has prior experience in similar projects. He will work closely with the project.
Lawrence Lartey – Consultant
“We are planning to launch the work as soon as we have all the resources in place, it’s a massive project and lots of concern has been raised so what we now need to do is sit with the UNICEF office in Belize to see how we could best get the resources so that we can start to implement the campaign and we can start to use what we have learnt to shape the campaign. It could take a couple of months it could take years but I think the main thing to remember is that this is the first stage so we’ve come here, we’ve got the information and now we need to start to work on the next process of the campaign.
“So the discussion was held in the last three days what are some of the most pressing concerns that these young people have?
Lawrence Lartey – Consultant
“Young people have many pressing concerns but a lot of them are worried about teenage pregnancies, abuse, about corruption about how they are perceived by the outside media, how they are perceived amongst their peers, they are worried about cyberbullying, so many things and things that I didn’t necessarily expect but a lot of quite deep what I would have thought were adult issues but these young people have actual concerns about their future.”
The Children Advisory Boards work closely with the municipal bodies to create a safer environment for young persons.