Seventeen-year-old Valeria Baisak from Ukraine’s Kirovohrad region has co-founded a project that helps young people to communicate better.
Can you imagine your life without proper communication? It's complicated, isn't it? Many people know the parable about the construction of the Tower of Babylon, which ended in a complete misunderstanding between its creators. It's hard to imagine that its content is our everyday life.
Humans are social beings who strive to realize themselves, to develop, to have a place in the lives of others, and to be heard. The development of these abilities is key to our personality, our career growth, and to establish relationships with other people.
There is a particularly great need for communication among teenagers, for whom finding connections can often be difficult.
That is why we created the ‘Communication Dinosaurs’ project, implemented as part of the UPSHIFT programme run by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The project aims to improve communication for young people in our home city of Oleksandriya, uniting them, opening pathways to non-formal education, and helping them to better understand themselves and others.
Young people are not the future. We are the present, and we must create the world in which we want to live.
It is change that helps our world to become better, but a lack of focus on adolescent development is a serious threat to society. Our project’s three ‘communicosaurs’ - two Valerias and one Nazar - each strive to help our peers open up and move forward. We are united by the desire to improve our city, help it and its inhabitants develop.
Communication between young people is one of the urgent problems that we would like to solve, because we work in this area and understand its importance. This project is a part of each of us. We have a lot in common, such as a desire for self-development, an interest in studying, and love for travel. Nevertheless, there are a lot of differences, which add diversity and a variety of views to our project. We filled the program with various activities for young people, which are our hobbies. For example, Valeria gladly conducts speaking clubs in English, Nazar talks about traveling and hiking, and I talk about literature and writers.
Our project has two main focuses:
1. Non-formal education training and mental health workshops.
It is here that we invite mentors – experts like psychologists, facilitators, people engaged and knowledgeable in social activities – to share valuable knowledge on self-development, building relationships with people, non-violent communication, teamwork skills, facilitation, understanding our moods and others, and the ability to express one's thoughts.
2. ‘Youth for Youth’ events.
These activities are aimed at developing young people’s communication, improving their public speaking skills, uniting interests and deepening their interest in several topics, such as hiking in the mountains, fluency in English and everyday understanding of each other. The activities are conversational – discussion clubs, board games and learning events hosted by young people who want to share their knowledge with others. They also include tea and cookies!
Do we like what we do? No, we love it!
We also love receiving feedback from young people who have attended one of our events, seeing them unite and communicate better, and seeing smiling faces and curiosity in their eyes. These moments have also changed us for the better.
Communicate and don't be afraid to discover the world!
UPSHIFT is a UNICEF global innovative programme, implemented in more than 40 countries, which helps adolescents and young people create and implement innovative solutions to problems they face in their schools, communities and cities.