Attentive, excited eyes. Wide, happy smiles. The hands, restless, move from one side to the other, clapping or waving. Hundreds of youth from Bahia’s Southern Lowlands gathered to celebrate World Youth Day. The celebration took place on March 30 simultaneously in Presidente Tancredo Neves and in the five municipalities that make up the Pratigi Environmental Protection Area (EPA): Ituberá, Igrapiúna, Nilo Peçanha, Piraí do Norte and Ibirapitanga. “It is good for us to join our ideas,” said Débora Maracás, 16, a student of Casa Jovem State High School, located in Igrapiúna “Together, we are one,” she said.
The event, which presented the theme “Youth Engagement,” was promoted by the Bahia Southern Lowlands EPA Mosaic Integrated and Sustainable Development Program (PDIS) (sponsored by the Odebrecht Foundation) and coordinated by the Rights and Citizenship Institute (IDC), an entity tied to PDIS. “This theme is the foundation of PDIS and all projects underway in the region,” said Maria Celeste Pereira, Executive Director of IDC. “And the youth who serve as the leaders and main actors in their neighborhoods, in their communities and at their schools,” she said.
During an afternoon dedicated to the youth, the public enjoyed musical and cultural presentations and educational lectures and received informative brochures and condoms. Booths with professionals from the area of health were set up in all the municipalities. “We are seeking to raise their awareness about the use of contraceptive methods,” said Talita Abreu, Basic Health Care Coordinator in Ituberá. “We encourage them to become aware of and understand their own bodies, which are in the phase of sexual discovery,” she said.
For Josué Paulo dos Santos Filho, Mayor of Presidente Tancredo Neves, it is important to celebrate this day in order to recover the youths’ values. “It is with initiatives like this one that we protect them from the areas of risk and from involvement with drugs,” he said. “We have a commitment to these youth. They are the ones who make it happen,” he said.
Eurides de Oliveira, Secretary of Social Promotion in Nilo Peçanha, highlighted the importance of encouraging the interaction of youth from different communities in order to maximize the potential of the actions they develop individually. “With everybody’s union, it is possible to promote Youth Engagement,” he said.
The event is one of many included on the PDIS calendar in Bahia’s Southern Lowlands, designed to strengthen knowledge on topics such as education, cooperativism, reading, youth, environmental conservation and culture.