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Syrian youth initiative launched
30 June 2005

Damascus: More than 150 people took part in the "First Symposium on Promoting Volunteerism for Students" in Damascus, Syria recently. The event represented an important first step towards investing in the development of youth-oriented service programs, policy, research and training in Syria.

The initiative was done through the partnership between the Junior Chamber International (JCI) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme, with the support of Areeba.

Mr. Mazem Mourtada, JCI President, opened the Symposium with an opening statement, followed by a lecture on the UNV Programme and the importance of promoting Volunteerism among and by youth by Ms. Fumiko Fukuoka, UNDP and UNV Programme Deputy Resident Representative.

The presentations’ subjects ranged from guidance on integrating volunteerism and community service into school programs to the positive emotional effects of volunteerism in the lives of youth. The sessions provided technical and theoretical perspectives on involving children and youth in volunteer activities.

Presenters included Dr. Patricia Nabdti, Founding President of the Association for Volunteer Services, Dr. Adib Essali, President of the Syrian Arab Association of Psychiatrists, Mrs. Maha Mesmar and Mrs. Huda Kassab Hassan from Damascus Community Schools and Dr. Chandan Naji, Vice-President of Rainbow for a better childhood.

In addition, a training workshop was conducted by Dr. Patricia Nabti, on: developing the guidelines for school-based volunteering and community service and and creating effective teams.

It is hoped that the outcomes of the symposium will be used by policymakers, business leaders, and youth program practitioners to learn more about “what works” in the area of youth engagement, and the critical role youth play in developing civil society, and in a broader sense, democracy itself.

It also aimes to strengthen the case for not only recognizing the enormous skills, and contributions of young people, but also ensuring them greater opportunities to make a difference in their communities.

From: UN Volunteers Syria