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Highlights / YES! Youth Clubs Hold Annual Forum

YES! Youth Clubs Hold Annual Forum

Heifer Armenia and its partner, Development Principles NGO (DP NGO), organized the annual YES! Rural Youth Clubs forum on July 16-19, 2015. As usual, representatives from all 28 youth clubs–180 youth in all–participated in the event. The youth have been looking forward to this gathering since the beginning of the year. It is an opportunity for the brilliant youth from places throughout Armenia to meet, share experiences, make new friends and tell each other about their best achievements during the previous year.

This group of young people is a new generation since the establishment of YES! Rural Youth Clubs, but the spirit of the youth has not changed. It is just as powerful as it has always been, and the youth's work is as fruitful as ever. This year the forum enabled the newcomers to integrate into the big family of club mates through interactive games and energizing activities, teamwork and group presentations. In only a few hours of communicating and working together, a warm and friendly atmosphere full of happy emotions, care and concern for each other was created. ]

The event's opening remarks were made by Anahit Ghazanchyan, country director of Heifer Armenia, and Aida Avetisyan, executive director of Development Principles NGO. After the welcome speeches, working groups were formed for the first task: the cooperation between local self-governance and YES! Rural Youth Clubs. They worked to answer the main question of, "How is your YES! Youth Club engaged in decision making regarding the socioeconomic life of your community?"

Each club made a presentation in response to this question. They talked about their work and achievements over the past year. Following the presentations was a question-and-answer session, during which the youth addressed issues they are concerned about and proposed possible solutions. Some clubs proposed that support, motivation and encouragement from the local government regarding their initiatives would improve the cooperation between the clubs and in order to achieve the best results in terms of cooperation between the local government and the clubs. A few even commented that it would be good to see local government representatives at club events and activities initiated by the clubs and their student members. The youth realize they need to be proactive to ensure regular attendance and active participation of decision makers in their communities. 

During the forum, a special guest conducted a training session on advanced approaches in contemporary farm management. Karen Baghdasaryan from the Technology and Science Dynamics company made a presentation on "Smart Farm Management System," developed by young Armenian scientists from ArmTab IT company. Through the presentation the rural youth learned about the latest developments in the IT sector directed at advancing farm management via information technologies. The youth learned about the new technological achievements that can be applied in agriculture with delight and great interest. The youth's profound questions and interesting suggestions caused them to be officially invited to join the Mergelyan Youth Club at ArmTab.

Last but not the least, the final session was devoted to the Pan-Armenian Declaration on the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This was followed by the award ceremony for the winners of the essay contest devoted to the Armenian Genocide centennial. More than 200 youth participated in the essay contest. The 20 best essays were announced and the winning authors received stationery sets generously provided by UMCOR Armenia.

Each day of this year's forum will remain in the memories of the YES! club members for a long time. This gathering, much like other events previously organized by Heifer Armenia and DP NGO over the last 10 years, summed up the fruits of the successful partnership that enabled thousands of youth to grow in the big family of YES! Youth Clubs. From this point on, this wonderful tradition of encouraging youth to think, cooperate and create will become part of Development Principles', Heifer Armenia's legal sucessor, future projects and initiatives, enabling the youth to turn their best ideas into reality and develop a strong and sustainable civil society.