Youth And Child Advocacy Network (YACAN) is a locally based, energetic and active advocacy organisation working for the promotion and protection of young people in Sierra Leone. It was established by Sierra Leoneon youth and children in May 2005 and it operations entirely under the control of the youths themselves in order to invigorate advocacy by young people for young people.
YACAN believes that investment in children and youth is a priority, not a choice.Thus it provides a platform for children and youth from diverse backgrounds to come together and be trained as advocates in order to raise awareness amongst policy makers on issues that are essential to proper development.
- To robustly promote advocacy by youth for youth.
- Encourage social inclusion.
- Engage the government, the international community and local community on key issues.
- Advancing social development for youth and children at all levels in Sierra Leone.
YACAN envisions a society that is free from all forms of discrimination and abuse against children and youth, the foundation for sustainable peace and economic growth, health, education, human rights, and security in Sierra Leone.
Programmes and activities
- Educational programmes for chidren and youth, both in and out of school. Through its Peer Education programme, YACAN recruits school children yearly between the age of 13 and 18 and trains them as peer educators in their school. The main focus is to promote equality among children, reduce violence in school. It works in 27 schools and reaches 700 children yearly.
- Campaign for a secured and suitable world for children which is free from all forms of violence and abuse. YACAN carries out campaings through the method of radio advocacy. It hosts a live weekly radio programme - Pikin Varanda Radio Show. The programme is moderated by children and the panelists of the programme are children are part of the YACAN school club in Freetown. The show promotes child rights and campaigns against issues that create fear in the minds of children. Starting in 2009, the show now reaches over 100,000 people and engages 50 children yearly.
- Campaign for better facilities for reproductive health with specific interest on HIV and AIDS and sexual reproductive health education for young Sierra Leoneons. YACAN has 50 young conducting training for the communities of Freetown and Moyamba on life skills topics.
- Campaign for the development of pro-poor national policies that can accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty, increase public accountability and enhance child protection.
- Women empowerment and capacity building for girls. In 2011, YACAN produced its first newsletter with the aim of promoting women's rights and the education of girls. In 2013, an e-copy of the newsletter was produced on the YACAN website. It has been supported by Plan Sierra Leone.
- Campaign for the protection of children from involvement in crime and for the promotion of gender equality among young people.
- Among YACAN's many campaigns is the Children Creative Writing Contest, focusing on the prevention of abuse against children.
YACAN is a member of many different coalitions that have been set up to advocate for children and youths. YACAN has partnered with national and international NGOs such as Plan Sierra Leone, Network Movement for Justice and Development, Cente for Coordination of Youth Activities, National Youth Commission and the National Election Watch.