Creating Positive Role Models in Palestine
The Youth Action Local Leadership Alliance (YALLA) is a youth-led civic engagement program for youth ages 12-21. YALLA activities are designed to empower youth to build and develop the Nabulsi community. YALLA also aims to engage university-aged youth in their society, making them positive role models for their younger peers.
YALLA is a unique opportunity for youth in Nablus because it gives them a real role in their society - to build and develop their community in a very positive way. Moreover, because of trainings the youth received in leadership, communication skills, problem-solving, public speaking and interpersonal skills, they are better equipped and prepared to solve potential challenges in their future workplace. However, there are many youth in Nablus' society that need similar opportunities, to prove themselves as change-makers in our community. For the YALLA initiative winners, it is important that they work very hard to complete their initiatives in order to prove themselves as role models to other youth their age.
As members of the Youth Leadership Committee (YLC), whenever we meet the initiative winners and discuss their initiatives and the next steps, we ourselves feel that the same amount of enthusiasm and strength as they do. The YLC, as mentors to the initiative winners are constantly inspired by the youth and their drive.
Even though the winners of the YALLA project are teenagers, they haven't forgotten about their community and how they can make it much better. For example, Deema and Roula, both fourteen years old, started a “Campaign Against Junk Food." By observing their peers and classmates, they began thinking about how they can help fellow teenagers away from junk food. Most importantly, these young students always reminded us about the importance of sustainability. Their campaign should not only run for a short amount of time and then be quickly forgotten, but rather, inspire students to continue their awareness - beyond the project's end - of healthy eating.
Rakan, 19 years old, with “Get to Know Palestine”, wants inform Palestinians and foreigners about the tourists sites of Palestine. As YLC members, we see a great deal of importance places on his initiative because it will support the tourist sector in Palestine. Tourism in Palestine is extremely underdeveloped and has been for years. But with the help of Rakan's initiative, not only will foreigners have better access to information about this region, but Palestinians will better understand their rich and beautiful history.
Wala'a, a twenty year old who will build a “Kids’ Park in Deir al-Hatab”, is inspirational because she hopes to target young children. TYO very much believes in focusing on young children, but like our center, we also pride ourselves in serving the community that supports young children. The most exciting aspect of her initiative is that she will reach entire communities - three separate villages - who lack a safe space for play. This park isn't just for kids - it's for mothers, fathers, siblings, and loved ones.
Although we as the YLC are mentors for these initiative winners, we still look up to these dedicated youth. Roula and I are, as all members of the YLC, completely inspired. Going forward, we know we will learn just as much from these youth as they will learn from us.
-Mohammad and Roula
Mohammad and Roula are members of the Youth Leadership Committee