July 4 2012

Young advocates meet UNICEF in New York

03/07/2012 - On 25 June, four young people representing SOS Children's Villages' I Matter Campaign met with UNICEF to advocate more and better support for young people transitioning from alternative care to independence. The meeting was very well attended and engaged participants in a meaningful discussion on the topic of leaving care.

Photo: SOS Archives
 At the meeting with UNICEF and NGOs in New York © Elisabeth Shuman
At the UNICEF-sponsored lunch time meeting, or brown bag lunch, which attracted UNICEF staff and NGO representatives, the young people stressed the importance of having a support person to help them navigate the transition from care into independent living.

They emphasized the emotional and psychological support needed from a trusted adult. They also called for the preparation process for leaving care to start early, and not shortly before a young person turns 18. Finally, the young people advocated the need for immediate changes in legislation for appropriate financial supports from states.

The four young people together with SOS Children's Villages representatives © Elisabeth Shuman
Young people engage UNICEF

The young people presented their work on the SOS Children's Villages' I Matter campaign, both in the International Youth Council (the body created to promote the participation of young people in the campaign) as well as the Peer Research Project (a project where young people with care experience become researchers on the subject of leaving care). 

The hard work and preparation of the young people, and their long term participation in advocating for change in leaving care engaged the UNICEF staff members and shifted their understanding of what it means to be a young person growing up in alternative care. So much so, that after the official closing of the meeting, many attendees stayed to talk to the young people one-on-one. Attendees expressed how impressed they were with the depth of the discussion from the young people and hoped for follow-up discussions.