International Youth Day:  we need to support inclusion of young people and help them achieve their potential

Brasília, 12 August 2014 - On International Youth Day, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, highlighted the need to support the inclusion of all young people and help them achieve their potential.

A survey published by Brazil's National Youth Secretariat in 2013 showed that the issue that concerns young people the most in Brazil is security and violence. Drugs appeared as well in this survey as one of the most important issues, while corruption and the power of drug dealers were also mentioned as the issues that bother young people the most in Brazil today. Homicide is the main cause of death among Brazilian youth, affecting especially young black males.

Following the logic of our mandate, the UNODC Liaison and Partnership in Brazil is committed to working on the reduction of youth mortality, with partners who also care about this issue. Read below the story of the life of a young man who had the opportunity to participate in a very special project at Brazil's Federal District, with the support of UNODC:


Davidson Pereira de Souza had to learn very early on how to overcome challenges. Black, son of divorced parents and raised near the Rising Sun community in Ceilândia, one of the poorest areas in Brasília, in his early teens Davidson suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious disorder that inflames the nerves of the body. Because of his illness, he had to use a wheelchair for a year and a half and nowadays uses an orthopedic brace, an external device applied to the body that helps him walk.

After graduating from a public high school, Davidson began working in a supermarket. However, unsatisfied and without any possibility of professional growth, he started to rethink his life and decided that it was time to change. He applied to university and was accepted into a journalism program. Around the same time, he came to know the Youth of Expression Program through friends. The program is aimed at reducing the vulnerability of young people to violence, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as supporting entrepreneurship. It exists since 2007 and is carried out by Caixa Seguros Group, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO in Brazil), and the Urban Network of Social Action (R.U.A.S.).

Davidson first signed up for one of the program's workshop in 2011: "It was a turning point. Through the program I started to get interested in social issues and working in the third sector. A lot of doors were opened due to the program: internships, trips, and opportunities for personal and professional growth", he said. After this, he became more and more involved with Youth Expression. Davidson participated in various activities such as "Fala Jovem", a space for participants to speak and listen that works along the lines of community therapy, besides working as a volunteer in the organization and promotion of social events, such as "Sabadão Cultural" and "Diálogos da Juventude".

In 2013, Davidson was one of seven young people selected by the program to work as Agents of Expression, conducting various activities to mobilize young people in their communities. Davidson started coordinating the Amplifier project, which mapped musical groups of various styles in Ceilândia, in order to help them promote their music on the Internet. He also worked with youth mobilization and as a tour guide in Ceilândia.

"The great advantage of Youth Expression is that it allows for young people who participate in a workshop to continue involved in the program. At the end of the activity in which the youth was initially involved, he or she has the chance to no longer be just a participant and become the protagonist, thus being able to make a difference in the lives of other young people. The project enhances things that these young people already have and may not know. In addition, it allows them to think about violence not as victims, but as people who can change that situation that exists in society", he said.

Nowadays, at 29 years old, Davidson has graduated in journalism and is still working in his community to transform the future of other young people. He is a member of R.U.A.S., where he coordinates the production of workshops and of a documentary about one of Brazil's largest slums: the Rising Sun community in Ceilândia, where Davidson still lives today.


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