More than 3,400 South African youths have been trained as change agents or 'activators' by ACTIVATE! - a non-profit engaged in empowering the youth through leadership skills and mentorship programmes.
To gain a better understanding of the socio-economic and political impact of their programs, social scientist Dr Mutami and his team analysed the role of their young activators, establishing that social youth networks are a viable development strategy.
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"Young people, when capacitated with the right skills and knowledge, motivation and resources, are capable of initiating ripples of positive change in their local communities," says Dr Mutami.
Their research also found that social programmes promoting a "positive outlook" for the future, helps teens to avoid indulging in risky behaviour and pulls them out of unsafe environments.
In fact, activators are also providing a voice for usually marginalised communities through their active citizenry, including creating and running their own businesses.
"The services offered by activators in their communities reflect the general challenges communities in South Africa face, especially in rural areas where government services are not visible," reports Dr Mutami. The ACTIVATE! youth network teaches young people about self-identity, which empowers them to think about who they are as individuals and what they can do in their communities to change other people's lives.
"Young people should not be seen as the problem, but as a critical mass for driving positive change in communities," concludes Dr Mutami.
For more information about ACTIVATE! visit their page here.
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