The Youth advocacy groups that was created in May 2011 with the mission to adopt and advocate for issues of local concern has concluded its work by end of APRIL 2012. Once formed, group members attended a 3-day group development training that builds their skills in project management, communication and advocacy, and mechanisms of social impact. Prior to completion of the training, a planning session conducted and devoted for youth advocacy groups to design, present, and discuss their initiative work plans.
The ATF team continued a constant follow up for the youth leaders and members to provide them with the necessary guidance, supervision, and the needed help in order to accomplish and finalize working on their own chosen issues within their local communities.
Earlier and immediately after the school examination in June 2011, young activists intensified their efforts on the issues they already have identified with anticipated outcome of encouraging the local authority and urge the local councils to improve the provided services. Based on the daily coordination between ATF and youth groups, noticeable developments took place on the youth websites to promote and advocate their concern. This included the number of posts, questions and answers, comments, videos and pictures. The activities were varied depending on each group justification and on cooperation of the official figures in each council.
A preparatory workshop was held in the city of Bethlehem on January 21, 2012 for the leaders and 2-3 members of each group. The agenda of the meeting included rehearsing the power point presentations of the draft report of each group. Each presentation was followed with a discussion by ATF team and members of the steering committee for the content and the style of the presentation. This event was very essential to prepare all the groups for the final event in order to make the required impact within 10 minutes of presentation.
The final closing - public event of the project has successfully taken place on 28 January at Hebron city. Four mayors and several municipalities’ officers, steering committee members, media agencies as well as MEPI’s team have attended the event. Final draft report has been issued and distributed in the final event. Local media covered the event.
Many significant points can be referred to as a success stories in this period:
1. Within several months, young students 17 years old succeed in convincing the local councils to make positive change on their communities, 2 public gardens, shade for public parking, late public transportation, 15 new cleaning jobs, 20 waste containers, 3 night clubs re organize their position for public contentious, all among the achievements of the young groups.
2. With this achievements, youth are empowered, gaining trust on themselves, encouraged their peers on their ability to make change, are the main impact of the project.
3. The fact that each group developed and created its own website home page or face book site provided the groups with a powerful tool to approach their local communities both at the official and citizens levels and to urge the local councils to improve the services they provide. The lobbying processes and awareness campaigns were another instrument between the hands of the youth groups.
4. The level of activities and results were varied between the groups; some groups achieved significant and distinctive results in a short time like the groups of Beit Jala, Dura, Hebron, and Tarqumyah, other group’s activities and achievements were limited and modest. In general, all the groups were responsible and achieved the expected results.
5. Many coordinators struggled and worked hard to keep the unity of their own group team and led the group through field visits.
6. Many groups gained sufficient experience to revise and amend the goals of the groups depending on the developments in the field.
7. The final closing event not only helped on presenting the projects, but also helps in creating incentives and motives to the youth activists to develop their own future projects, campaigns, and activities.
The participation of MEPI representatives, mayors, steering committee members, and others confirmed the importance of following up the youth groups and stressed on the continuation of the groups especially the social media means. Many ideas has been presented to spread this unique experiment which depends on combination between youths work and social media as an effective solutions for some of the problems facing the local communities. The work was supported by the Middle East Initiative “MEPI”.
Outreach or media contacts during the period:
Al Quds daily newspaper - 29/1/2012
• Morning radio school at Mascat school, Bethlehem.
• “One” a local radio station in Hebron
• “Liberty” a local radio station in Hebron
• MAAN news 29/1/2012