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April 16, 2004— Youthink!, the World Bank’s new website about development issues that matter to young people, hit the cyber newsstand yesterday.

Young people, who typically represent the web’s savviest users, have been one of the Bank’s largest, but most underserved Internet audience.

Youthink! is a lively, interactive, dynamic website that provides relevant content to young people, written in an age-appropriate language.

Youthink! invites young people to explore the research, knowledge and experience gathered by World Bank experts on issues like poverty, development, and conflict. Youthink! also invites young people to share what they see around them through personal stories, photos, etc.

 

 

In addition to tackling globalization, debt relief and trade, the site looks at issues singled out by youth participants at last year’s Youth, Development and Peace Conference, where World Bank President James Wolfensohn met with 100 young people from 70 countries. These issues include education, unemployment, crime and violence, among others.

“As a global development institution, the Bank is in a good position to engage young people about pressing development issues. Using the web to reach youth is a natural step in the Bank’s communications and advocacy efforts,” says Viviana Mangiaterra, World Bank Children & Youth Advisor.

Youthink! has separate areas for younger kids and teachers, a forum where young people can share their ideas and concerns on development, suggestions how young people can get involved in development work, and a multimedia section with games, quizzes and videos.

The Speak Out on the site will host regular live web chats with and for young people. The first scheduled chat is with the World Bank’s Mittpheap You, who will talk about her experiences as a Cambodian émigré to the US and her recent visit. The second chat is with two Ugandan AIDS orphans, who will talk about how young people in Africa deal with the fallout of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Youthink! builds on and incorporates the Bank’s existing web resources for kids, students and teachers, For Kids and Schools, Depweb and KidsDevNews.

Reaching out to young people Youthink! is part of the Bank’s broader outreach to children and young people.

While the Bank’s lending programs have been improving the lives of children and youth throughout the decades, the institution hasn’t always directly interacted with young people.

However, young people in developing countries make up the fastest growing segment of the world population—and in most of these countries more than half the population is under the age of 25. They tend to be the most vulnerable part of society, because their voices are least considered when the global community discusses strategies and implements projects designed to improve living standards.

“We understand Youthink! won’t reach those young people without access to the Internet. Our intention with this site is to educate youth about development issues, start a discussion on them, and also help dispel some myths about the Bank,” says Gerry Rice, World Bank Communications Director.

“The Bank has undertaken other complementary activities to ensure we reach young people around the world more directly, to listen to their concerns and suggestions, and see how their ideas can help us in our work to reduce poverty and improve their lives.”

The Bank’s other youth-oriented initiatives include the drafting of the Bank’s Children and Youth Strategy, engaging youth in the Bank’s country offices, such as the Nuevas Voices, and holding regional youth dialogues to follow up on actions that Wolfensohn and youth partners agreed on at the Youth, Development and Peace conference.

Youth Photo Contest: Your Vision, Your Voice

The Bank has launched a global photo essay competition titled Your Voice, Your World. The contest invites young people (ages 14 and 20) to zoom in on their surroundings and capture their world through images. http://youthink.worldbank.org/photocontest

Previous stories:
Nuevas Voices in Development
Forces of change
Reaching Children and Youth in Middle East and North Africa
Young Timorese Take to the Airwaves

 





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