ICT4D - 6 December 2023

At the centre of youth participation: YouthLinks Community skyrockets

The YouthLinks Community has been expanding quickly since 2021, reaching more than 3,200 users from over 50 countries around the world until November 2023. The collaboration with young influencers led to a 250% increase in overall platform engagement.

"The start of the YouthLinks platform was bumpy," remembers Alicia Rodriguez, member of our global Youth & ICT4D team. “To help increase the user numbers in 2023, we launched a campaign within the YouthLinks Community on topics of interest to our target group, introducing a reward system, social media challenges and quizzes. We leveraged gamification techniques and guaranteed young people's ownership of the campaign by collaborating with young influencers and fostering peer-to-peer promotion."

Young influencers are the young people who collaborated closely with the campaign organizers to engage their peers and raise awareness. Emmanuel Koryan, Joshua Ayodele, Iresha Dilhani, and Vanessa Mukamanzi showed a commendable spirit engaging their peers as real influencers.

Alicia Rodriguez says: "The strong presence of young people gave the YouthLinks Community an additional push. The platform was positioned at the centre of youth participation in the community: as a safe space to nurture relevant skills, exchange and collaborate for greater impact. It played a crucial role by allowing youth to engage with their peers for a more transparent and participatory approach."


Emmanuel: sparking conversations with friends

24-year-old Emmanuel’s roots in Liberia have played a significant role in shaping his passion for social initiatives. He has always felt a deep connection to his community and a strong desire to give back. Emmanuel is actively involved in youth-led initiatives and has greatly benefited from YouthLinks Community and the campaign.

"One of my achievements was the sharing of knowledge through infographics and educational videos on social media platforms", Emmanuel says. "With these resources, I aimed to enlighten my friends, spark conversations, and raise awareness on important topics I chose to address. This achievement not only showcased my skills but also emphasized my commitment to education, community engagement, and youth empowerment."


Joshua, winner of the campaign

Joshua is the President of the Youth Council of SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria. "I was immensely happy that I was heard in the YouthLinks Community Campaign", says the 20-year-old university student. "YouthLinks has helped me develop my leadership skills and gain confidence in my abilities. I have made valuable connections and built a strong network with like-minded individuals."


Vanessa: “You will never know unless you try”

Vanessa grew up in an SOS Children's Village in Rwanda. The now 23-year old university student is one of the members of the Youth Advisory Board of the YouthCan! global project. Together with Iresha, a young entrepreneur from Sri Lanka, and Chikonzero from Malawi, Vanessa participated as a team.

The young women who got to know each other through the campaign are now running an Instagram page called @empower_youths_voices, talking about meaningful youth participation.

Vanessa says: "The campaign taught me a good lesson: You will never know unless you try. I tried to join the campaign and gained a lot from it. It is not about winning - what you are offering matters. 2023 is a year in which I grew up as a person because I was part of the YouthCan! Youth Advisory Board and the Youth Participation Campaign. It all starts with a feeling of interest in something, and then you take a step. I realized that there are capabilities that we young people have within ourselves, but we can’t discover them without these impactful activities that help us try new things and discover what we as young people can do."


Iresha, winner of the Youth Participation Campaign and co-administrator of @empower_youths_voices


Campaign results

The results of the campaign are a source of pride for Alicia Rodriguez: "The platform interactions increased by 250 % during the campaign in August, which has resulted in a steady monthly growth of 50% since".

Youth Participation campaign in a nutshell

The campaign was launched in August 2023 as the UN declared August the international month of youth. Called “#YoungLoud&Strong”, the campaign promoted meaningful youth participation and targeted all the YouthLinks Community members, especially the young people currently or formerly supported by SOS Children’s Villages. The objectives were both to raise awareness about meaningful youth participation and to boost engagement on the platform.

Each week, there was focus on one of these topics related to youth participation:

  1. What is youth participation?
  2. The nine basic principles of meaningful youth participation
  3. Lundy model and different degrees of influence
  4. Youth-led initiatives

These topics were covered in the Participates flayer developed by SOS Children’s Villages office in Latin America and the Caribbean and put in practice in weekly challenges which could lead to bigger impact.

The campaign reached over 2,000 young people across the world.


Key takeaways

The project group identified several key takeaways:

  1. In a survey shared after the campaign, the participants did not only strongly agree that the campaign helped them develop valuable skills related to meaningful youth participation, but they also felt more motivated to actively have a say in matters that are important to them.
  2. The aspects of the campaign that the young people liked the most were: connecting with others, learning new skills through the weekly challenges and getting certificates of participation.
  3. Young influencers were real change drivers, successfully encouraging active engagement of other youth.
  4. Young people want to see more campaigns on topics such as: employability and entrepreneurship, personal development, mental health, environment, sustainable living and climate action, digital skills, and sex and reproductive health.



Building on the success of the first campaign on youth participation, in November 2023 a new global campaign is being run in the YouthLinks Community. It focuses on youth employability, entrepreneurship, and mental health and is run by the global YouthCan! team together with members of the Youth Advisory Board.


Do you want to raise awareness among young people about a specific topic?

We aim to implement more campaigns to sensitize young people and build their capacities in areas that matter to them, in collaboration with internal and external partners. If you and your team are interested in collaborating with us and impacting more young people and care leavers through our platform, please reach out to youthlinks@sos-kd.org or Martin Schmid, project manager of YouthLinks Community.

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