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The Centre for the Integral Development of Youth in Soacha, Colombia
an article by Amada Benevides
translated by Fabian Vega and Charlotte Van der Tak

The Centre for the Integral Development of Youth ("Centro de Desarrollo Integral Juvenil") is a program designed by UNICEF-Colombia, financed by the government of Canada and executed by Fundacion Escuelas de Paz (Schools of Peace Foundation) since 2009. The program involves the exercise and protection of the rights of adolescents and youngsters from Cazuca. This is a highly vulnerable area, which is located in the municipality of Soacha and borders on Bogota. The objective is to contribute to the integral development of the adolescents and youngsters from this community.

click on photo to enlarge

The Centre works through 4 components:

1. Training-Action-Participation-Production:

This component involves a training process of entrepreneurship and training workshops on arts, culture, and sports. The workshops include Singing, Music, Theatre, Urban Dance, Folkloric Dance, Recycle-Art (handicrafts made with recycled materials), New Technologies, Video, Radio and Photography, English and Football. Each one of them is led by a community instructor, who is a young community leader with empiric knowledge. In the training process of entrepreneurship, youngsters write their own business plans and are granted with seed capital. Artistic or cultural projects are stimulated.

2. Enabling access to institutional services:

This component includes working hand in hand with the municipality to promote the protection of the rights of adolescents and youngsters. It includes three parts: a) Friendly Health Services for adolescents and youngsters which supports the Secretary of Health to enable differentiated and relevant access to Health Services; b) "Sowers of peace and coexistence," a proposal for Student Social Services in the Culture of Peace, Human Rights, Democracy and Participation, developed for educational institutions in Cazuca; and c) Route of access to justice with an emphasis on psychosocial attention.

3. Social fabric strengthening:

Two groups were created for work with the community: a) "Red Social de Apoyo" (Social Support Network), a group of organisations that work together for adolescents and youngsters in Cazuca in order to generate a maximum impact; b) "Comite Gestor Juvenil" (Youth Management Committee), a group of youngsters from Cazuca that receive specific training, suggestions and initiation of projects, political training and capacities on monitoring and evaluation. This group has expended to include adolescents and youngsters who are part of the organizations of the "Red Social de Apoyo".

The participants choose the themes that are important for them, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, racial discrimination, gender, and child abuse.

4. Communication, Monitoring, Evaluation and Systemization.

These are cross strategies that provide qualified information about the project.

The Center of Juvenile Development, more than a project, hopes to turn into a real engine of local human development.

(Click here for a Spanish version of this article)


Question(s) related to this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

Community plays a important role in developing culture peace. We should promote our cultural values by interacting with each other and making these values part of our daily lives. A good example of this would be raising our children according to beliefs and values which are important for us and our cultural peace. We can also promote cultural peace by making small commuinties within big community and share different ideas and bring new ones in.

This report was posted on July 25, 2012.