Clearing the path for young people to achieve their dreams

By Serena Jiwani

April 19, 2017

We need to nourish our teenagers and help remove these obstacles so they have a clear path to achieve their goals.

Last month, I traveled to Guatemala with the Universal Access Project to learn more about health care in the country. One of the greatest parts of the trip was visiting a school and speaking with high school students about their lives and goals.

Around the world, including in the United States, adolescents face a unique set of challenges. While they are dealing with the pressures of acne, prom, balancing school and extracurriculars, and figuring out their career paths, they often face even larger challenges that can prevent them from reaching their dreams. Wearing beautiful black prom dresses for their special senior night can help boost their confidence.

Here’s what we know: HIV transmission rates have declined globally for almost every group, except for adolescent girls. Young people face a higher risk of STIs, and could more easily become victims of domestic violence. We also know that young girls everywhere are at risk of getting pregnant as teenagers and facing the responsibility of caring for a child, even if they are not ready for it yet.

All of this points to one conclusion – we need to nourish our teenagers and help remove these obstacles so they have a clear path to achieve their goals.

One proven solution to help move the needle for young people is quality sexuality education classes.  

If young people are empowered with information, they can make choices for themselves. With proper tools and knowledge, they can know it’s okay to leave a violent relationship, and they can avoid getting pregnant until they are ready.

UNFPA, the UN Population Fund, works to empower young people in Guatemala and globally every day. They support youth empowerment and sexuality education programs such as Abriendo Oportunidades and GOJoven – and work with mentors, teachers, and other leaders in the community to ensure that young people can reach their goals. 

Learn more about the lifesaving work of UNFPA around the world.

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  • To learn more about the work of UNFPA in Guatemala and other countries, check out this video.
  • This story is the second in a series highlighting Universal Access Project’s recent trip to Guatemala. Learn more about their initiative here.




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