the Caribbean to Central and South America, this form of implementation has been acknowledged for encouraging both personal and community development, while oftentimes contributing to poverty reduction. It has furthermore been seen as a way of promoting civil engagement through various service opportunities in communities. Positive youth development efforts can be seen in the work of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with various regional governments and the private sector across Latin America and the Caribbean. This work has focused on providing broader educational options, skills training, and opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth to obtain apprenticeships. The ¡Supérate! Centers across El Salvador are one example, as they are supported by USAID in combination with private companies and foundations, and offer expanded education for high-performing students from poorer economic backgrounds. As of 2011, there were 7 centers in El Salvador and USAID expressed plans to expand this model across Central America. In Brazil, the Jovem Plus program offers high-demand skills training for youth in disadvantaged communities in Rio de Janeiro and the northeastern area of the nation. Other programs include the "Youth Movement against Violence" in Guatemala and "Youth Upliftment through Employment" in Jamaica. Page 34 of 72
IV. Youth Participation Youth Participation is the active engagement of young people throughout their own communities. It is often used as a shorthand for youth participation in any many forms, including decision-making, sports, schools and any activity where young people are not historically engaged. Coinage Youth participation, also called youth involvement, has been used by government agencies, researchers, educators, and others to define and examine the active engagement of young people in schools, sports, government, community development and economic activity. In 1975, the National Commission on Resources for Youth in the United States defined youth participation as: ...Youth participation is the involving of youth in responsible, challenging action that meets genuine needs, with opportunities for planning and/or decision-makingaffecting others in an activity whose impact or consequence is extended to others— i.e., outside or beyond the youth participants themselves. Other desirable features of youth participation are provision for critical reflection on the participatory activity and the opportunity for group effort toward a common goal. In 1995, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) established a definition of meaningful youth participation as: Meaningful youth participation involves recognizing and nurturing the strengths, interests, and abilities of young people through the provision of real opportunities for youth to become involved in decisions that affect them at individual and systemic levels. Page 35 of 72
This book offers a portrayal of the opportunities for social inclusion afforded to young people in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a view to building stronger youth policies in the region. The youth population must be included in development processes if progress is to be made towards more egalitarian societies, not only because of the numbers of young people vis-à-vis the rest of the population, but also because of what these numbers mean in relation to dependency rates and the needs and issues particular to this stage of life.