Engaging young people in disenfranchised areas and addressing their needs has become a matter of utmost importance and an integral part of the global struggle to prevent violent extremism (PVE). Using educational, vocational, cultural and physical activities, Governments, NGOs and civil society groups are trying to empower them with the life skills and values which can prevent their descent into a life of violent extremism and crime, and give them a positive outlook on their future.
Reflecting on the growing importance of this approach, UNODC and UNESCO jointly convened an expert group meeting in Vienna this week, to share with various practitioners experiences on recent and ongoing initiatives, to review key findings, and to generate recommendations on the use of sports in the prevention of violent extremism.
Preparing today's youth to become tomorrow's leaders rests in large part on giving them solid educational pillars, including not only the necessary range of formal academics but also strong ethical foundations and essential life skills.
To keep the dialogue open with this most important of resources, its young people, UNODC's Regional Office for Eastern Africa, with support from the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, recently organized the National Youth Workshop on Promoting Good Governance and Integrity, bringing together some 500 Kenyan youth, representing all segments of society, including vulnerable communities from across the country.
As part of UNODC's global efforts to use sport as an instrument to make youth more resilient to crime, drug use, and violence, three organizations working in marginalized communities in South Africa were recently awarded financial grants under the Line Up, Live Up initiative.
The organizations - which are based in the Gauteng and Western Cape provinces - will offer a series of comprehensive approaches to positively impact the lives of young people in the neighbourhoods where they work, through a combination of sport, life-skills training, community mobilization and youth empowerment activities.
Under the Doha Declaration Global Programme's initiative on youth crime prevention, UNODC has launched a small grants scheme in Kyrgyzstan to support national Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) active in the field of youth development. Specifically, UNODC is looking to engage CSOs that use sport as a vehicle to work with youth in marginalized communities who are at-risk of being involved in crime, violence or drug use.
"Can anyone tell me why Dana succeeded in this exercise?" asks Randa, a summer camp instructor, to the 20 young girls still catching their breath from the last sports activity. A few of them enthusiastically raise their hands: "She did not lose her self-control," says one girl; "She was persistent," adds another.
It is precisely this lesson that Randa is hoping will be absorbed by the young people attending a two-week summer camp at Qalandia Village, near Ramallah. It is here that Randa has been implementing a range of sports activities to help youth develop their life skills and better cope with daily challenges to stay away from violence and crime. Prior to the opening of the summer camps, Randa was part of a group of 26 instructors in the State of Palestine trained by UNODC on the Line Up, Live Up life skills curriculum.