Friday, 17 August 2012

Youth as Agents of behavioural Change - Red Cross

With the Red Cross building 19,700 houses in Sri Lanka (16800 funded by Govt of India) and endeavouring to provide water, sanitation and livelihoods, it is understandable that we focus largely on the hardware side of the project, but we are also dealing appropriately with people who have been traumatised by a 25 year long conflict is something the Red Cross quietly does as a cross cutting initiative. Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC) is an initiative to empower youth to play a lead role in transforming mindsets, attitudes and behaviour in their local community. It starts from the premise that a prior commitment to inner change and being the living example of our Fundamental Principles and Humanitarian Values is the best way to reach this objective.

Leaping for social inclusion and a violent free society. An amazing venue at
Tholangamuwa, on the Kandy-Colombo road.

YABC is rooted in a non-cognitive and participant-centred experiential learning methodology. Through games, simulation and visualization exercises, role-plays, arts, etc., youth are therefore given the opportunity to make a journey "from their heart to their mind". The initiative also uses innovative artistic platforms (music, theatre, dance, visual arts, sports and ‘inner arts’) to enable youth to reach out to and mobilize the community as well as raising awareness on a culture of non-violence and successfully engaging them in its promotion

Today I went to close the YABC workshop ,with Keti Khurtsia IFRC programme coordinator, which has been running from 11th to 17th August. It was tremendous to be there for the final few hours and see teams of 5 putting on dramas, dance, music and movies on themes ranging from anit-discrimination, peace building and social inclusion. We had trainers and participants from Lebanon, Philippines, Afghanistan, Malaysia and approximately 25 participants from Sri Lanka. It was a pleasure to see some tutors from Kilinochchi who participated in the first YABC course in late 2010.

Keti Khurtsia (left) presenting a certificate of successful completion to one of the participants.

Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC) is a global IFRC flagship initiative that aims to empower youth to play a leadership role in inspiring a positive transformation of mindsets, attitudes and behaviours within themselves and their local community through non-formal values- and skills-based education. As such, it has envisioned the firm call and strong commitment of RCRC youth to: inner change and the development of skills to promote harmony and positive attitudes within communities, and to be the living examples of our seven Fundamental Principles and Humanitarian Values.

At Tholangamuwa. pictured above, where we conducted a Red Cross Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change course. The centre is situated on a hilltop the Colombo - Kandy road and is a protected wildlife sanctuary.

For those that want more information I will provide further background information.

Toolkit package

In 2008-2009, the IFRC P&V department in Geneva developed a draft toolkit for YABC, together with the Youth Commission, the Youth focal point of the Organisational Development Department, and a network of youth leaders from RCRC National Societies world-wide. Based on or inspired from existing materials, the draft toolkit’s contents are:

Module 1. The seven Fundamental Principles and their underpinning Humanitarian Values: (i) Humanity, (ii) Impartiality, (iii) Neutrality, (iv) Independence, (v) Voluntary Service, (vi) Unity, (vii) Universality.

Module 2. Behavioural skills: (i) active listening, (ii) empathy, (iii) critical thinking, non-judgement and dropping bias, (iv) non-violent communication, (v) mediation, (vi) operating from inner peace (e.g. resisting peer pressure, enhancing self-resilience, substance abuse, stress management, etc.). Module 3. Thematic issues: (i) non-discrimination and respect for diversity (PLHIV, migrants, elderly, disabled, etc.), (ii) intercultural dialogue, (iii) social inclusion, (iv) gender, (v) violence prevention, mitigation and response.

Apart from this toolkit containing 20 concept papers and around 75 interactive activities, the YABC toolkit package includes 6 presentations on the artistic platforms for social mobilization previously mentioned, guidelines on the community engagement activity cycle, and a manual for peer educators.

YABC in Sri Lanka

Following the positive response to the training of YABC peer educators conducted in Vavuniya in December 2010, the SLRCS Youth Department proposed the organisation of a second training of YABC peer educators for youth from branches that were not represented in the first one last year. With a view to continuously building the capacity of youth in accordance with the YABC educational itinerary in place, the Youth Department will selected among the pool of young people that were trained as YABC peer educators in the last training, 3 persons who showed strong commitment to the initiative and who have been actively implementing it in the field since their training in December, 2010. These key persons were coached two days prior to the training and one day following it by two experienced YABC trainers with a view to actively supporting the trainers in the delivery of the training and being further qualified as YABC trainers, therefore able to deliver the future trainings of YABC peer educators in Sri Lanka and globally.

The training of YABC peer educators is innovative because it goes beyond skills development. It celebrates the idealism, enthusiasm and creativity of youth and encourages them to lead by example while demonstrating how to harness their energy for meaningful service delivery within their communities.

General objectives of this second training of YABC peer educators

1. Expand the network of YABC peer educators in Sri Lanka by building the capacity of Red Cross youth to use the YABC toolkit and implement the initiative within the framework of their National Society activities. In line with this, the training will also aim at:

• Increasing their awareness and understanding of the 7 Fundamental Principles and the underpinning Humanitarian Values, thematic issues and behavioural skills in order to be able to disseminate and act upon them on a daily basis ;

• Familiarising them with the non-cognitive methodology and materials of the YABC toolkit so as to enable them using it within their National Society, region and/or zone.
2. Develop the network of YABC trainers in Sri Lanka by building the capacity of a few key Red Cross youth leaders who are strongly committed members of the network of YABC peer educators already existing in Sri Lanka and have actively implemented the initiative within the framework of their National Society activities.

Beyond Training

Considering that behavioural change is a process that requires commitment, participants will be encouraged to think beyond the training to how they can utilise what they have learned during the training, in their work. Additionally they will be asked to make a personal commitment to furthering the YABC initiative in Sri Lanka by committing to share their progress with the network of Peer Educators in Sri Lanka.


In 2008-2009, the IFRC P&V department in Geneva developed a draft skills-based toolkit for YABC, together with the Youth Commission, Youth focal point of the Organisational Development Department, and a network of youth leaders from 42 National Societies world-wide. Here is an update on what we are doing in this respect.


Sodagar's said...

Thank you Bob and yes, Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC), which is the Federation's flagship initiative for youth empowerment and leadership in the promotion of culture of non-violence and peace. This is also an innovative initiative to teach our fundamental principles. How do we live our fundamental principles. The YABC focuses on the skills development, development within themselves and then to others. "be the change you want to see in the world", Mahatma Ghandi's vision is revoiced in the Youth Declaration of 2009.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Thanks for your continuing leadership and support for YABC Bhavesh.

Michele Burlot said...

Thanks for this great post, Bob. I am working on my graduate thesis, and I would love to look at the toolkit as part of my research. Is there a place I can download it?

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