Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change

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Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change

What is YABC?

YABC is the IFRC’s flagship initiative on the promotion of a culture of non-violence and peace (CNV+P). It was created in 2008 for youth and with youth from Red Cross and Red Crescent worldwide. YABC empowers them to take up an ethical leadership role in inspiring a positive transformation of mindsets, attitudes and behaviours within themselves and their community. It is built on three pillars: youth empowerment, operating from inner peace and reaching out to the community.

 

First of all, the YABC initiative raises youth’s awareness and understanding of issues related to the promotion of a culture of non-violence and peace (CNV+P). Actually, what YABC stimulates is a personal reflection and positioning on these thematic issues. A key question within the YABC programme is, for instance: “Is it really so?” YABC helps youth realize that there is no ‘black-and-white truth’. It encourages them to develop their own perspective or view, so that they own it truly and take the responsibility for acting upon it.

Development of skills to promote a CNV+P

Secondly, the YABC initiative equips youth with specific, real tools to walk on the path of promoting a CNV+P, through the development of interpersonal skills to enable them to interact and live together peacefully. Acquiring and applying these skills allows youth to also ‘embody’, or represent, the seven Fundamental Principles of the Movement and their underpinning humanitarian values, or to be role models to inspire their communities.

A non-cognitive or ‘from the heart to the mind’ methodology

The YABC initiative is rooted in a participant-centred, experiential learning approach. It also relies on a non-cognitive methodology, meaning that feelings, experience, or the physical body, rather than intellectual analysis, are the entry points for learning. Youth are introduced to thematic issues or develop skills through games, role-plays, simulation and visualization exercises, storytelling and ‘internal arts’. In a second phase, youth share experiences with their peers and reflect together. In this way, they make a ‘from their heart to their mind’ learning journey.

Peer education and mentoring

YABC learning comes from within and through exchange with peers. Knowledge is not ‘conveyed’ unilaterally, nor ‘taught down’ by adults. Youth are more receptive and open to learn from other youth, and peer education favours exchange at a level of equality, trust and thought-provoking learning where solutions are explored together.

 

The YABC educational approach works on the principle of the cascading effect as YABC youth readily multiply this learning within their Red Cross and Red Crescent national society and local community. After trainings, YABC peer educators transfer the acquired learning and skills to other youth, volunteers and staff within their Red Cross and Red Crescent national society. This therefore equips them with the means to act as agents of behavioural change in their local communities. For example, the initial 24 youth who were trained as YABC peer educators have reached out to 702 youth from all over the country in a period of just six months.  

 

After this active phase of YABC peer education and implementation at the local level, YABC peer educators are partnered with YABC trainers of peer educators who will coach them towards becoming YABC trainers of peer educators. This has enabled the exponential growth of the global network of both YABC peer educators and trainers of peer educators.