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The Squirrel program has earned recognition as an innovative initiative, endorsed by UNDP, and acknowledged as a best practice in Peer Education in India by UNFPA. Initiated in 2012, the primary goal of this program was to empower community youth champions to effectively address local issues in their communities.
Over time, we witnessed the remarkable potential of this program. Volunteers, through the formation of children's collectives and youth groups, and by engaging with village elders, achieved results that typically would have taken NGOs years to accomplish. This realization prompted us to redefine our role as catalysts, emphasizing the nurturing of community youth leadership.
Young participants focused their efforts on specific children's rights, including the Right to Education and the Right to Participation. Adopting a child rights perspective expanded our scope of work,
deepening our impact and resulting in tangible changes in villages. For instance, we achieved universal birth registration, 100% immunization rates, and widespread institutional deliveries in many villages. We also successfully pressured the administration to improve school infrastructure, leading to a substantial increase in school enrollment and attendance.
Furthermore, we prioritized multi-stakeholder engagement to garner support and leverage government schemes and programs. The program primarily serves rural and tribal youth, emphasizing their active participation and leadership development.
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