The YP Foundation creates a space in society where young people access the resources, training and mentoring they need to be able to set up and host their own projects with us. These projects target a range of socio-cultural, political, economic, environmental and legal issues that the youth in India feel need to be addressed in their own communities. The organization is both, youth led and youth run. Each project focuses on an issue by researching and engaging with it at the field level and creating a dialogue between different communities and often even between the government and young people. We work by setting up community based projects, dialogue groups and awareness workshops and forums, research and policy engagement, performing and visual arts based projects.
My dream is that we will redefine the possibility and potential of how we see young people in our societies. Learning to develop your own voice, accessing information and being trusted to develop your own opinion, engaging with others and recognizing the human rights, needs and skills of different diversities in your own community and developing the leadership and life skills to trust your own ability to innovate and be a social entrepreneur, is an incredible journey I have witnessed in over 1500 young people that I have worked with in the last 7 years.
Together, we have reached out to more than 25,000 youth in our city, creating over 150 projects. The YP Foundation today hosts and develops work through 9 programme divisions, supporting projects in different fields including Understanding Climate Change and the Environment, enabling Healthcare and Education for Street Children, Developing Life Skills Based Education, Understanding HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse, Promoting Young Citizenship work with Governance and the Law and Peer Education Programmes on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights.
Our work is guided by the principle, that by empowering young people and giving them a safe space in society where they can ask questions, challenge information and develop their own ideas, you are investing in develop a very critical human resource that builds the future and promise of any country. And to my mind, that’s exactly why we are we need to support working with young people. We believe these issues are key to empowering young people to protect themselves and that if you give young people their right to information, skills and services and that if you trust rather than judge who you think they are, young people can negotiate high-risk situations more effectively and reduce their vulnerability to a range of issues, specifically, violence, HIV and substance abuse.
And as a 24 year old young person who has been running a youth led organization in the city for the last 7 years, there is a question that repeatedly comes up in all of our programmes. Young people ask about it, in confusion. Parents ask about it, worried. Teachers and Schools wonder what to do with it, confused, communities discuss it, in secret and the Indian government is still developing a comprehensive framework to implement it.
Ishita Chaudry is the founder of the YP Foundation in India. This is part two of a series posting Ishita’s remarks made for a United States Congressional Briefing, Global Youth: A Strategic Investment on March 3, 2009. Download the full remarks here. Read the other installments here.