training and skill building

Youth Speak works with young people to ensure not only that their ideas are supported, but that they have the necessary skills to resolve challenges among their teams and ensure project sustainability. 


As part of their mentorship training, Youth Speak is partnering with Soliya to provide young people in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq training in 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, and media literacy through Soliya's flagship program, Connect. The Connect Program allows young people the opportunity to engage with their peers across the globe on community issues through Soliya's online platform. Youth Speak then works with program participants to integrate and adapt the skills they learn through Connect into their community projects, providing them hands-on opportunities to put those skills to use in their everyday lives and community activism. 

women's empowerment programming

Young people around the world, but particularly those exposed to conflict, often feel confined by social expectations and cultural norms of how they should behave-- something that can be especially true around gender and gender expression. Youth Speak works with young people to identify ways that they can express themselves in safe and constructive ways that benefit their communities. 


Youth Speak, in partnership with Arcaro Boxing Gym and Adii Sports, is in the process of setting up a 12-week boxing course, using synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods, aimed at young women in Duhok. In addition to developing new skills, participating women will gain confidence in themselves and one another as they work together in a supportive community.



Biking is common among young children in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, but once youth reach adolescence, most have given up on biking either as a pastime or as a mode of transportation. In partnership with IOM and 12 local organizations, this project grants young women increased access to public spaces, as well as access to exercise as a mode of psychosocial and physical wellbeing and the opportunity to meet young women from all different backgrounds during bike training and large community-wide biking events. To learn more about this initiative, click here.

arts and culture

Supporting arts and cultural initiatives is a key part of Youth Speaks' work. When the artistic and cultural ideas of young people are supported is when they feel they truly have a voice in what comes next. 



September 21 is International Day of Peace, and last year for the first time, it was celebrated by the youth initiative Duhok Peacebuilding, in partnership with Un Ponte Per (UPP) Organization. Youth Speak provided a small grant to support the group's event, but all peace carnival activities were planned and coordinated by a team of volunteers from Duhok and Domiz Refugee Camp. Peace carnival events included face painting, live music, and a photography competition, all meant to promote peace, particularly between host community members and Syrian refugees. The peace carnival itself was attended by more than 200 community members coming from Duhok and Domiz Refugee Camp. This year, the event will be hosted by a group of Syrian refugee youth who are studying peacebuilding, as an opportunity to put their academic skills to a practical test.



Volunteers of Duhok University is a youth initiative housed at the local public university in Duhok to promote volunteerism and support community members and organizations. VDU volunteers are starting a new initiative designed to help  promote literacy and a culture of reading in Duhok through regular book exchanges that bring readers together to discuss ideas, share books, and make recommendations to their peers.



Want to support any of these initiatives?