Modern youth are often accused of non-participation and indifference to community life and public service, but members of the First Youth Forum in Mykolayiv can dispel this belief. In April 2013, the Youth Forum 'Solving Youth Problems Together' was organized by the youth organization Alter-Sport and the 'Young Football Volunteers: Sport and Volunteering for the Millennium Development Goals' project, with its UN Volunteers working in the Mykolaiv region.
The Forum hosted 65 participants, including students and teachers from the Mykolayiv region and representatives of local youth organizations. They discussed youth-related issues, and representatives of Mykolayiv NGOs shared their experiences in addressing the problems of youth, focusing on positive practices of healthy lifestyle and meaningful leisure activities.
During the forum, young people prepared 14 action plans, with specific problem-solving measures to implement in their communities. The best action plans will receive financial support from the 'Young Football Volunteers' project, and the youth initiatives will be implemented in rural communities between June and October 2013.
"Such events help to create a platform for mutual understanding, exchange and cooperation, both among young people and adults, and between schools and community organizations that can empower rural youth to address their concerns," says Dmytro Say, national UN Volunteer coordinator of the Youth Forum, and coordinator of the Young Football Volunteers project in the Mykolaiv region.
Teachers and young participants at the Forum expressed their desire to hold such events more often to exchange experiences and ideas. "Thanks to the Forum we learned of new opportunities for young peoples development, as well as innovative approaches to work with children," said Alexander Shevchuk, a teacher at the Snigirevskaya School in Mykolaiv.
"I enjoyed everything; I wish only one thing - to attend such events more often! I learned how to conduct a campaign in my village. I have met very interesting people like UN Volunteers and students from other schools; I have learned that people from other villages face similar problems... and I am happy to hear that there are ways to solve them. In the future I'm going to try to organize a clean-up campaign in my village," says Andrey Uvarov, a student at the Kutsurubskaya School in Mykolaiv.
The 'Young Football Volunteers' project is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, the Football Federation of Ukraine, and the German Society for International Cooperation to promote youth development methodology through sport and healthy lifestyles. The project is financed by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, the United Nations Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine and. In 2012 the project results included more than 1,200 young people acquiring healthy lifestyle knowledge and skills, including HIV prevention.