30 September 2021
UNICEF and Gyumri Youth Initiative Center relaunch Armenia’s first fully inclusive community-based youth center for adolescents and young people
UNICEF was joined by Gyumri Youth Initiative Center NGO, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Shirak Regional Administration and Gyumri Municipality to relaunch Armenia’s first fully inclusive community-based open youth center, located in Gyumri. Established in 2018, the center lacked resources and accessibility to provide services to a higher number of adolescents and young people in and around Gyumri, including persons with disabilities. In March 2021, as part of its humanitarian response to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, UNICEF set out to renovate, refurbish and make the center accessible in order for the community to be able to provide services to a higher number of beneficiaries. The center aims to improve the wellbeing of adolescents and young people, enable civic activism and provide them with opportunities for learning, skills and network building, thereby also improving their future employment potential. “Through our programmes, UNICEF is committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all children and adolescents. In the next 12 months, we will help renovate, refurbish and establish 10 additional centers across Armenia, which we call ‘safe spaces’ as they provide various services to children and adolescents, including protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation or violence, as well as nurturing care that helps them to cope with and recover from distressing events,” said Silvia Mestroni, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Armenia. With the funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, UNICEF and Gyumri Youth Initiative Center NGO improved the landscaping and accessibility around the center, including signage and visibility, light fixtures for evenings, installation of a ramp, a stand for bicycles. The center was provided with solar panels to increase energy efficiency and renovated inside to provide for accessibility. “Centers like this one should not be a luxury. They are a necessity for each and every community in Armenia. A safe space where adolescents with and without disabilities can engage in various structured activities, receive life skills and vocational training, support with finding employment, take part in healthy lifestyle activities that promote problem-solving skills and emotional regulation,” noted Arthur Najaryan, President of the Gyumri Youth Initiative Center NGO. Together with the representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Shirak Regional Administration and Gyumri Municipality, participants welcomed adolescents and young people with and without disabilities to the center where a discussion was held about the needs among the young community of Gyumri and nearby settlements and next steps.