International Literacy Day: “Thanks to the Dianova Foundation’s workshops I have learned and changed my way of thinking about important issues for us, adolescents, for my family and my community.”
By María Victoria Espada – This is part of the testimony of one of the young beneficiaries of the project Health and Welfare Networks for Adolescents, Young People and Their Families implemented by the Dianova Nicaragua Foundation thanks to the funds made available by the United Nations Office against Drug and Crime (UNODC).
Developed between August 2018 and July 2019, the project’s main objective was to prevent and help reduce the incidence of substance abuse and teenage pregnancy among adolescents and young people aged 11-25 years living in the Laguna 1 and Laguna 2 communities in Granada, Nicaragua. In addition to the 50 young people directly served by the project, the latter had an indirect impact on 100 young people and over 200 families through the creation of safe spaces enabling people to speak openly and respectfully about such issues as substance abuse, sex education and gender within their own families and communities, through the development of personal and social skills and the building of support networks.
According to a 2013 report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nicaragua has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America, with 28% of women giving birth before the age of 18, the situation being much worse in rural areas. The report also that 50% of the parents only were able to provide some kind of emotional or financial support to the mother and the child. Sexual behaviours in the young population along with the higher rates of drug and alcohol use among men and boys are highly influenced by strongly rooted gender norms impacting directly on public health, relationships dynamics and family and gender violence.
Educate and Prevent
Such projects as “Health and Welfare Networks for Adolescents, Young People and Their Families” help reduce both social and personal vulnerabilities among these young people by enabling them to access programmes aimed at sex education and substance abuse prevention. The workshops and activities carried out throughout the sequential phases of the project had differentiated contents and focused on various target groups. The topics addressed in the various stages consisted of, among others: the development of leadership and self-esteem, teamwork, gender equality, addiction prevention, sex education, family communication, human and children’s rights, parents as educators and protectors, and network management and entrepreneurship.
Among the project’s outcomes, it is worth highlighting the higher levels of self-confidence attained by the adolescents, as evidenced by their ability to make informed decisions in such areas as family, sexuality and substance use, and to address risk factors at a personal, family, and community level.
Additionally, the participation of parents and caregivers was expanded and family communication was strengthened by opening the space to discuss sensitive issues such as those mentioned earlier. In turn, the creation of business projects stimulated entrepreneurship and initiative among young people and contributed to their individual and social progress. Through its dissemination on social networks, the project message could then be amplified and its replication promoted in different areas of the country presenting similar problems.
On September 8, the International Literacy Day is an opportunity to publicize projects such as “Health and Welfare Networks for Adolescents, Young People and Their Families”, that promote learning opportunities for adolescents and young people from vulnerable communities, help them build their identity and play a leading role in their own integral development. These learning throughout life opportunities are a key element of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 4, Education, within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.