To new beginnings
Sixteen youth will walk out of the YUVA Centre today, brimming with a host of new ideas and knowledge to kickstart change within their communities. We’ve just concluded the City Caravan, YUVA’s two-module course on co-creating inclusive cities with the youth.
The participants of the course from across India — Mumbai (Malvani, Dharavi, Wadala), Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Solapur, Bhopal, and Dimapur— will be returning home, enthused to promote betterment in their own bastis, cities and in wider spaces. It’s been a journey full of learning, love, laughter, friendship, and fun, focused on a common vision and mission of change and transformation. Here are some of the broad themes that the youth engaged with along the way:
- A critical appreciation of the urbanisation process
- The inclusive city concept and the role of the youth to drive participatory development
- Studying the role of governance, market and people in shaping the city
- The role of advocacy and participatory networks in cities
- The role of communication in driving social change
Participation, interactions, engagements galore
A unique aspect of this course was its participatory approach. We encouraged the youth to learn with us, and contribute their ideas to the discussions taking place. Pragati Vaishya of Mumbai mentioned how this approach helped her develop more cogent arguments while Ravi Rathore from Bhopal said that it has vastly improved his logical and critical thinking skills.
The City Caravan was even exposed to international perspectives when MSW students of Adelphi University engaged with the youth and a candid sharing session took place. The youth mentioned how the course helped them understand their constitutional rights, know about the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and how it relates to their unique local contexts, better assess vulnerabilities in cities, and so much more. In turn, they asked the Adelphi students what had made them opt for social work, what are the issues commonly encountered in the US, and what their vision of change encompasses. The City Caravan youth were amazed to hear how issues of housing and drug abuse are so prevalent across the world. While MSW student Jenna Henning mentioned how these inspirational stories from the youth are helping her find her voice, Kamala Jackson stated that the change that will start from these youth is sure to impact generations after. It was a very enriching and emotional session as all the participants shared their personal stories from their heart.
At their convocation, the City Caravan youth interacted with previous participants of this course. ‘The information I received from this course really helped me spread rights awareness and knowledge on social issues. Try to spread your learnings from this course far and wide,’ said Sameer Khan, who attended this course last year. Asma Ansari agreed with him, adding, ‘The course offered us a new perspective on a lot of issues, and I will never forget what I learnt here’.
The significance of the journey
It is estimated that by 2020 India will become the world’s youngest country with 64 percent of its population in the age group of 15–35 years (UN-Habitat 2012). The youth can change the way cities are imagined, planned and experienced, but often lack the awareness of how their individual and collective action can help build a just, equitable, and inclusive city space for all. This is what this course sought to address over two intense modules. We are hopeful that the youth will be able to take their work forward with a better understanding of urbanisation.
Project Associate, YUVA