An amazing thing happened when I started doing good things for our community: some groups of teenagers, who were total strangers, saw what we were doing and came to ask if they could join us. We made new friends, and they invited their friends to join our next volunteer activities. Adults in those areas looked at us with appreciation. Some even gave us refreshments. I feel good every time that I do something good for the community.
UNFPA Thailand Country Office presses priority on youth leadership in demanding their sexual and reproductive health and rights to be protected and their accessibility to such services with special focus on the problem of teenage pregnancy. In 2014, UNFPA has awarded the grants to 15 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
The purpose of these grants is for capacity development activities that will enable the CSOs to function as the supporter of future youth-led initiatives on the prevention of teenage pregnancy and/or the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.
New-Found Love: How Taking Responsibility for My Community Has Changed Me
by Thammatorn Sakultasatien,
12th grader and volunteer in the “Teen Power” project
What Makes ‘Teen Power’ Cool…
“Before joining the ‘Teen Power’ group, I never volunteered to do any community work. In fact, I never even thought about it. Now I know how happy it is to be a giver! I used to think that I needed to have money, high-level positions or authority before I could improve society. Now I know that even though I’m just a poor high-school student, I can make an impact and influence people to do good even without me saying anything. I just need to roll up my sleeves and do it first. The best thing that I’ve received from this project is a new me. This project has changed me from a good-for-nothing kid who skipped classes to a diligent student who donates his free time to help in community service.
“Before I joined this project, I was involved in street fights. I used to punch another guy until blood came out of his mouth. Once, I got punched myself and ended up getting three stiches on my chin. Now I don’t see the point of fighting. It’s so much better to clear up disagreement by talking. These days, if I see friends about to get into a fight, I’d come in and mediate. Street fights are useless. You get physically hurt for nothing. It’s so much better to have friends than to make enemies: you don’t always have to be on the watch for attacks.
“I’m lucky to have a friend like Frank. He invited me to join ‘Teen Power’. Our first volunteer activity was cleaning the premises of nine temples. Our street fighting gang became a cleaning squad. We cleaned the temples’ toilets, swept the yards, and mopped the halls. I felt so good about it. Because I didn’t have much money so I offered physical labor instead as a donation. The monks were alarmed when they first saw our gang coming but when they learned that we came to help, they gave us a blessing. Our gang spent some of our weekends cleaning public places such as the sidewalks along the city’s canal and around waterfalls.
“An amazing thing happened when I started doing good things for our community: some groups of teenagers, who were total strangers, saw what we were doing and came to ask if they could join us. We made new friends, and they invited their friends to join our next volunteer activities. Adults in those areas looked at us with appreciation. Some even gave us refreshments. I feel good every time that I do something good for the community.
“Since I’ve joined this project, I’ve come to love myself more and feel more worthy. I’m glad that I’ve changed for the better. In the past, if I thought that I couldn’t do something, I would refuse to try it out. But now, if I see a difficult task that I’m not sure if I could do it, I would give it a try. I’d tell myself that I have two hands and brains like any other person. If other people can do it, I might be able to do it as well.
“This project gave me many opportunities to do the things that I thought I could never do such as speaking in front of hundreds of people. At the beginning, I was terrified. Now, it is a piece of cake. I’ve been working as a volunteer facilitator for this project for three months. I’ve led younger kids in playing games. I’ve talked to them about personal hygiene, physical changes of their bodies during puberty, how to prepare themselves for puberty, and protected sex.
“Being a volunteer facilitator forces me to behave myself so as to be a good example to younger kids. I no longer engage in street violence, and these days I date one girl at a time. We volunteers have a gentlemen’s agreement that we will not wear the ‘Teen Power’ T-shirt while drinking, fighting, or clubbing. In other words, we agree not to do anything bad while wearing this T-shirt.
“When I grow up, I want to be a social worker like what Toom and Ann [project staff] are doing. I feel happy every time I come to help and share my knowledge with younger kids. Sometimes, I get physically tired but being a giver always makes me happy. Seeing children’s smiles is enough to make me happy.”
PROJECT: Based in the northern province of Prae, the Center for Creative Social and Environmental Development’s ‘Teen Power’ project seeks to help teenagers, especially adolescent boys who were labeled as troubled teens, to develop their characters, thinking faculty and potentials in order to change themselves and their communities for the better.
· To strengthen their self-esteem and sense self-worth, teens are encouraged to plan and pursue community service activities of their choice.
· Enquirer-based learning to help teens learn and practice positive thinking.
· Training workshops in which teens get to work as volunteer facilitators to help spread sexual-reproductive health knowledge to middle-school and high-school students in their communities.