Youth RISE

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Annual Report 2008

Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

Message from Youth RISE International Coordinators

Looking back over the year of 2008, we have much to be proud of in our growth and development as a network. With little more than a year’s worth of funded activities, Youth RISE has established itself as a unique and innovative project in several distinct arenas such as the international HIV/AIDS youth movements, the international harm reduction community and drug policy reform initiatives. What began with several young people and supportive mentors in the spring of 2006 has blossomed into an international network of over 200 registered members from more than 60 countries. A crucial component of Youth RISE in the past year has been the formation of an International Working Group (IWG), which provides leadership, direction and the implementation of projects. This dynamic team of young people has had membership from countries as diverse as Algeria, Argentina, China, Guyana, India, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Spain, Syria, Vietnam, the UK and USA. We have also been fortunate to have the help of an intern from Eritrea. What has emerged is a collective of young people, with diverse life experiences, who are committed to ensuring that young people have a voice and are able to meaningfully participate in the policies and programmes that affect their lives. We are committed to advancing harm reduction as an effective approach for young people who use drugs and are affected by substance use. In 2008 alone, Youth RISE staff and IWG members were involved in consultations, conferences and meetings in Amsterdam, Oslo, Tacoma, Barcelona, Ibiza, Bucharest, Goa, New York, Vienna, Mexico City, Prague, Phnom Penh, Copenhagen, Washington and Ottawa. These events ranged from HIVrelated, to harm reduction, to drug policy reform, to club health, to drug user organizing. Young people have critical insight into the realities of today, yet are far too often left out of any dialogue or discussion. The young people involved in Youth RISE continue to demonstrate that young people affected by substance use and drug policies can and should be involved as equal partners in the dialogues and decisions around harm reduction and drug policy. Youth RISE members have grown up in a world in which drugs are often more available than the resources to reduce drug related harm, where harsh drug laws and wars against drugs dominate global policy and we have not known a world without HIV. We are uniquely positioned to understand the complex world we live in, and the past year has demonstrated the eagerness of so many young people to be involved in finding solutions that are effective, health and human rights based approaches. Youth RISE could not have achieved this much without the support and mentorship from many individuals and organizations around the world and we are incredibly thankful. We look forward to continued growth and partnership in 2009 and beyond. Sincerely, Caitlin and Kyla


“My experience as an IWG members for Youth RISE has greatly helped me to realize the potential inside me where often as a drug user I have to deal myself with hopelessness”
– Vikram Laishram, IWG member, India

Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

Many young people all over the world have been affected by or experimented with drug use at one point in their lives. Yet accurate information about substance use and access to drug related services have not been made available to young people. Young people today live in a world where drugs are more readily available than access to education and resources relating to reducing drug related harm. Young people who have experienced or are affected by drug use are rarely included in the design and delivery of comprehensive prevention, education, outreach and treatment programs. Providing training and developing resources for young people most-at risk for drug-related harm and HIV/AIDS has been a priority for Youth RISE since its inception.

who we are…
Youth RISE (Resources. Information. Support. Education.) is an international youth-led network for reducing the risks and harms associated with substance use. Youth RISE is a new, completely innovative project, acting as the first and only youth-led global harm reduction network of young people. Youth RISE recognizes that young people (age 15-24) face a wide range of specific barriers when it comes to accessing harm reduction services, advocating for harm reduction interventions or engaging with harm reduction and drug policy organizations at a national, regional or international level. Youth RISE aims to increase the engagement and social inclusion of young people in the policies and decisions that affect their lives, thereby both increasing the effectiveness of programmes and services, and the health outcomes of the children and youth involved. Youth RISE advocates for effective harm reduction programmes and policies for young people, as well as increasing opportunities for young people to participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of the policies that affect their lives. In addition, the organization provides a culturally diverse experience, allowing for cross-cultural partnerships, peer-to-peer training opportunities and youth empowerment initiatives.
We are comprised of a vibrant group of young people from all regions of the world with different experiences ranging from community based outreach work to global policy consulting and development.


“It was a gold opportunity to be involved in the group and being involved in harm reduction added new values to my Youth RISE Annual Report been working as a experience. As I have / December 08 peer educator on reproductive health and HIV with young people, I learned how drug policy affecting many young people in African countries”

guiding principles…
• Valuing equality of voice and participation and seeking to ensure the widest representation of the diversity of young people and harm reduction globally.

- Jean Claude Dusingize, IWG Member, Rwanda

• Understanding the responsibility to ensure the representation and inclusion of children and youth in our respective regions who may experience barriers to participation. • Working towards ensuring that the children and youth who use drugs or are affected by drug use and/or drug policies have a real say and central voice in matters that affect them. • Working with the objective of consensus and understand that each member’s individual input is valuable and each IWG member has the right to participate in Youth RISE decisionmaking. • Working from a Rights-Based approach and with the spirit of youth engagement

who we work with…
Youth RISE currently has a registered membership of over 200 young people and youth allies. This does not include the hundreds of individuals who receive our resources and take part in our on going advocacy programs and projects. Youth RISE works with youth allies and young people who are most at risk such as street involved and current/past drug users, as well as harm reduction advocates, policymakers, donors, service and health care providers, human rights and HIV/AIDS activists. In addition, Youth RISE works with both thematic and regional harm reduction networks, many of which have supported the development and projects of the organization. To view a full list of all harm reduction networks, please visit


I wanted to be involved because I can make so many friends from different countries and learn from them and also share my experience with them. As the matter of fact, I am very luck and happy to work with all of IWG members.
– Bao Xiuhong, IWG member, China

Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

goals and objectives…
Youth RISE has developed five overarching goals for the upcoming 2009 year: 1) Strengthen and increase youth and youth-allied participation in the international harm reduction and drug policy movements 2) Strengthen relationships with other regional and thematic networks in order to increase a diverse group of individuals and experiences within the organizations 3) Increase youth participation at international, national and local advocacy opportunities 4) Increase the availability of research, training and resources available addressing effective harm reduction programming for young people 5) Promote and work towards the sustainability and independence of the network

“Young people who inject drugs have been overlooked as part of the AIDS response for far too long, with devastating consequences. Youth RISE is a groundbreaking movement for young leaders all over the world working to reduce drug-related harm to share knowledge and experiences. The network is a crucial platform that helps young people to advocate to their governments for effective programs and policies that protect young people's fundamental rights.” - Joya Banerjee, co founder, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA)


Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08 Youth Rise has been an incredible experience until now – I must admit that I didn’t believe in it from the beginning but something made me get involve more and more. At this point I am amazed with what it became, with the commitment of the people involved and with the magnificent work we’ve managed to do together despite the distances, the language and culture barriers. – Veronica-Iulia Broasca, IWG member, Romania

successes and milestones…
Formation of the International Working Group

An International Working Group (IWG) is comprised of young people (under the age of 29) from around the world with varied experience, including both high-level expertise and direct work in youth harm reduction. The IWG work, in a voluntary capacity, is to develop the network alongside two part-time coordinators. These individuals have focused on the creation of an accessible website – – and the recruitment of approximately 200 members who are engaged in our work. The IWG has participated in strategic planning to provide direction and focus to the network. It has contributed to advocacy initiatives and campaigns, has reported on the availability of harm reduction services in their region for young people, and the members have participated in three Task Teams including Fundraising and Strategic Partnerships, Training and Technical Resources, and Communications and Advocacy. We would like to thank our 2008 IWG members for all of their hard work: Lydia Guterman, Iulia-Veronica Broasca, Norwell Hinds, Vikram Laishram, Julia Recchi, Nues Figols, Susi Fanworth, Pallavi Yagnik, Basheer Rahmoun, Anastasiya Putsevich, Bao Xiuhong and Jean Claude Dusingize. In addition, we would like to welcome the newest members of the working group and fundraising intern for the 2009 year; Rahel Weldeab (Fundraising Intern) and Khalil Sakhri (Middle East and North Africa) IWG Member


Youth RISE is…

Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

“Youth RISE is a unique organization within the harm reduction movement in the fact that it is a youth-led, members based and international organisation. In the two years since its foundation, Youth RISE has consistently demonstrated with their solid work the importance of having youth perspectives as key components in the harm reduction and HIV movements, which was much missed before the inception of Youth RISE. For the World AIDS Campaign, Youth RISE is a key partner moving forward towards universal access“ – Claudia Ahumada, Youth Campaigns Coordinator, World AIDS Campaign

Youth Rise is an amazing organisation of young people standing up for the dignity and human rights of their peers in an informed and effective way that I find extraordinary. These youth face challenges that were unimaginable when I was young. Neither HIV nor HEP C existed; the world I grew up in was truly a more forgiving place instead of one that sought a criminal justice solution to every problem with an attitude of zero tolerance and 3 strikes you’re out. It seems as though the narrow-mindedness and bigotry that now permeates the global attitude manifests itself in the exclusion of those most affected. Even today an aging cadre of baby boomers, those oppressed youth of the 60s find it difficult to make space to let the youth of today, those most vulnerable to harms from drugs and infectious diseases like HIV, to lead the discussions on ways to alleviate the harms. The unrelenting call of Youth RISE "Nothing About US Without Us" is refreshing and has forced many "right thinking do gooders" to realise that youth, unclouded by cynicism, will not be "done to" or "done for" but see a world of infinite possibilities and will do for themselves whether we agree or not. If I recall correctly I pretty much felt like that 40 years ago. Its good to see that fervour of spirit still lives.
- Dr Marcus Day DSc, Director, Caribbean Drug & Alcohol Research Institute


Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

participation in international fora…
One of Youth RISE’s main priorities is the advocacy and participation of youth and harm reduction issues at both the local, national and international meetings and conferences. Not only has Youth RISE been active participants at such events, we have also acted as one of the few voices for the inclusion of young people into harm reduction programming and policies. January World AIDS Campaign and UNFPA Youth Consultation – Amsterdam, The Netherlands In January, Youth RISE members participated at the World Aids Campaign (WAC) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Youth Consultation in Amsterdam, where they successfully advocated for the inclusion of harm reduction and substance users in comprehensive HIV/AIDS campaigning and mobilization. First Asian Consultation on the Prevention of HIV related to Drug Use - Goa, India The purpose of this consultation was to bring together key politicians, policy makers, practitioners, management and frontline workers from the Asian region to pool resources (including best practices and experiences gained), identify barriers to the massive expansion of services required and to collaborate in outlining strategic solutions. A Youth RISE IWG member from India participated as a young drug user representative, as well as several Youth RISE members at large. April European Outreach Work Conference – Oslo, Norway The focus of this conference was on early intervention and youth at risk and the aim was to gather practitioners, researchers, policy-planners and outreach workers from all over Europe to exchange the best of practice, research and training/education. A Youth RISE Coordinator shared information about harm reduction as an approach to working with young people. May Harm Reduction 2008 - Barcelona, Spain Youth RISE organised and participated in the planning and presentation of youth sessions at the IHRA conference in Barcelona (2008), as well as coordinated satellite meetings for young people in Warsaw and a satellite meeting on ‘Youth and Alcohol’ in Barcelona. In 2008, Youth RISE brought the IWG team together to participate in strategic planning for the network and peer-led training opportunities, as well as participating as delegates in the conference. June UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS – New York, USA Youth RISE coordinator, Caitlin Padgett was invited to speak at the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in New York (June 2008) as part of a panel on Universal Access. She spoke about the ways in which young people and young substance users have been systemically marginalized from HIV treatment and prevention. To see her speech in full please visit, Club health Conference – Ibiza, Spain This event brought together experts from around the world to exchange information on the latest research, policy and practice on protecting and promoting health in nightlife settings. The IWG member from Spain, who is also involved in peer based nightlife harm reduction, presented information on Youth RISE.



Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

September 1st Global Methamphetamines Conference Prague, Czech Republic Youth RISE coordinator participated on the Executive Programme Committee and was involved developing the Youth Track and moderating a Youth Session. October-November INPUD Strategy Meetings and International Drug Users Day - Copenhagen, Denmark Youth RISE coordinator participated in INPUD strategic planning, workshops and International Drug Users Day. November Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference – Washington, USA Youth RISE International Working Group member from the USA presented a workshop on young people and harm reduction for student drug policy advocates. National Harm Reduction Conference - Miami, Florida Youth RISE Coordinator developed the Youth Track and both coordinators presented on the international movement of youth harm reduction. Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy Drug Policy (CSSDP) National Conference Ottawa, Canada Youth RISE coordinator presented on a panel with Canadian youth service providers and youth advocates on the status of young people and harm reduction.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visits Youth Pavilion and Mexico Youthforce co-coordinated by Youth RISE.

July Beyond 2008 NGO Forum - Vienna, Austria In July Youth RISE representatives successfully lobbied for the inclusion of young people’s issues in the Beyond 2008 International NGO Resolution in Vienna, Austria. The meeting of over 300 NGO’s sought to review the 1998-2008 objectives of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Illicit Drugs and develop recommendations for the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. August International AIDS Conference 2008 - Mexico City, Mexico Youth RISE played a significant role in the organising and programming of harm reduction and youth events for the International AIDS Conference’s 2008 Mexico YouthForce. Youth RISE Coordinators held both chair and member positions on the Advocacy Committee and Youth Pavilion Committee. The Youth RISE Coordinators also acted as the YouthForce spokespersons on harm reduction and young people. Youth RISE coordinators presented three skills-building workshops on youth and harm reduction and presented on two panels. Youth RISE was successful in including harm reduction as part of the key advocacy messages for the YouthForce.


“It is amazing to see how far Youth RISE has come in just one year. The youth voice for harm reduction and drug policy reform is gaining strength. It is an honor and a pleasure to be part of the first International Working Group- the dedication and generosity of spirit this group possesses makes me very hopeful for a just future.” -Lydia Guterman, IWG Member, USA

Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

writing and contributing to major international reports, research and policy statements…
World AIDS Campaign and Youth RISE Fact Sheets on HIV/AIDS and Injection Drug Use Youth RISE collaborated with the World AIDS Campaign to produce a youth-specific fact sheet on harm reduction and the linkages between injecting drug use and HIV/AIDS. This fact sheet has been translated into several languages (Spanish, Russian and Arabic). To access these fact sheets please visit Youth People and Drug Use in Selected Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasian Harm Reduction Network Report Youth RISE has worked in collaboration with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) on a report on young injection drug users and their access to harm reduction services in Eastern European region. The full report will be available soon at Towards a Rights-based approach to harm reduction for young people - Report The IWG is currently working in collaboration with the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) on a report using the Convention of the Rights of the Child as a framework for examining the provision of (or lack of) substance use and harm reduction services for young people under the age of 18. Youth RISE members from 10 countries have already completed extensive reports on the situation for young people in their countries. Please visit on our project page to view the full report. World AIDS Day and Human Rights Day On World AIDS Day and International Human Rights Day Youth RISE released two statements and press releases on the status and issues related to HIV/AIDS and human rights abuses with young substance users. In addition, Youth RISE contributed to a submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights entitled 'Harm Reduction and Human Rights: The Global Response to Injection-Driven HIV Epidemics'. Statements are available on the Youth RISE main website page.


Youth RISE Annual Report / December 08

2009 and beyond…
Towards a Rights-based approach to harm reduction for young people In April, Youth RISE will release a report in conjunction with the International Harm Reduction Association on the Conventions of the Rights of the Child, outlining a rights-based approach to harm reduction. MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation: Youth RISE UP for HIV prevention Youth RISE is currently working with MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation in the development and implementation of two youth-led harm reduction training programs in Bucharest, Romania and Manipur, India. The two trainings, Harm Reduction and Sexual Health and Harm Reduction and Injection Drug Use, will provide young people with the information and necessary resources to deliver and implement the project with vulnerable populations such as young substance users and sex workers. Committee on Narcotic Drugs and United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Illicit Drugs Meeting Youth RISE will be participating in the Committee on Narcotic Drugs and UNGASS meeting on drugs in March 2009. We will be advocating for the inclusion of harm reduction and both young substance users and young people affected by drug policies as a key target group of the committee’s future objectives and policy development. Harm Reduction 2009 Bangkok, Thailand Youth RISE is hosting a youth major session entitled “ What are our rights? Young People, Drugs and Harm Reduction” at the International Conference on Drug Related Harms in Bangkok, Thailand. In addition, the Youth RISE Coordinators, International Working Group Members and session speakers will be attending and advocating at the conference for the inclusion and incorporation of young people in harm reduction. International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria Throughout 2009 and leading up to 2010, Youth RISE hopes to continue its involvement with various activities and planning committees at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria. Training and Advocacy Resources The development of training and advocacy resources continue to be one of the main priorities of the network and we will continue our efforts for the 2009 year. Youth RISE plans to develop resources on youth-led harm reduction initiatives, guides to good practices for 11 service providers working with youth and youth involvement in policy and planning.

Youth RISE is an amazing and dynamic experience since I am a mere infant to the HR movement. Being involved - the accountability and shared decision making Youth RISE Annual most / December 08 made the past year a Report fulfilling one. – Norwell Hinds, IWG member, Guyana International and National Partners In order to facilitate many of the programs and advocacy initiatives, Youth RISE works with various organizations and associations that have significantly contributed to the development of the organization. Without their participation and support, Youth RISE’s activities and programming would be limited and as such we wish to thank our partners for their ongoing work and commitment to young people. Financial Partners United Kingdom Development Fund on International Development (DFID) The Department for International Development (DFID) is the department of the United Kingdom Government that manages Britain's aid to poor countries and works to get rid of extreme poverty. DFID is currently Youth RISE’s largest financial strategic partner, providing the core funding for administrative and organizational resources and support International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) is the leading organization promoting a harm reduction approach to all psychoactive substances on a global basis. IHRA supports the engagement of people and communities affected by drugs and alcohol around the world and works to promote harm reduction and human rights issues within national, regional and international bodies (such as the UN). IHRA has played a significant and pivotal role in the development and support of Youth RISE. They support Youth RISE with multiple conference scholarships to the International Conference on Drug Related Harms, in-kind administrative and legal consultation and resource support. MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation (SAF) The Foundation’s mission is to encourage, energize, and empower young people who are involved in HIV/AIDS awareness, education and prevention campaigns. Youth RISE is a current grant recipient of the foundation for a project called “Youth RISE Up for HIV Prevention” focusing on Harm Reduction, Substance Use and Sexual Health training projects to be implemented in Manipur, India and Bucharest, Romania. Open Society Institute (OSI) OSI is currently supporting Youth RISE in our Vienna 2009 Project, which seeks to bring young people to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and UNGASS on Drugs meetings in March. This project includes advocacy training and participation, providing young people with the opportunity to engage in high-level meetings.


Strategic Partners Talking IT Global They seek to provide opportunities for learning, capacity-building, cross-cultural awareness, and selfdevelopment through the use of Information and Communication Technologies. Talking IT Global works with Youth RISE’s as technical and web development partners, aiding in the online facilitation of coordinating the network, development of online resources and connecting with young people around the world. Global Youth AIDS Coalition (GYCA) GYCA is a youth-led, UNAIDS and UNFPA supported global network of 4,000 young leaders and adult allies working on youth and HIV/AIDS in 150 countries world-wide. GYCA is currently one of Youth RISE’s strategic partners, providing resources and support in regards to an HIV/AIDS and youth related initiatives. Their support has been essential in the development and engagement of young people, HIV advocacy and the inclusion of harm reduction into youth HIV issues. World AIDS Campaign (WAC) WAC has worked as a strategic partner to both increase participation of young people involved in the harm reduction movement within the broader youth HIV/AIDS campaigns, and specifically to address the needs of young injecting drug users within HIV prevention and Universal Access, and to strengthen the coordination between youth Sexual and Reproductive Health organizations and harm reduction initiatives. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) UNICEF provides consultation, mentorship and support to various Youth RISE activities, in accordance with UNICEF’s Most At-Risk Adolescents initiatives. UNICEF also provides support to Youth RISE members to participate in Global conferences and meetings.


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