Peace Corps Volunteer Helps Moroccan Youth Develop Leadership Skills, Environmental Awareness through Outdoor Program

November 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 20, 2014 – To mark Universal Children’s Day, the Peace Corps recognizes volunteers who work to strengthen the next generation of leaders in communities worldwide. Since 1954, the United Nations General Assembly has observed Universal Children’s Day to promote friendship and understanding among children and remind the world that the welfare of children should always be a priority. Nine percent of Peace Corps volunteers work in the youth development sector to help children cultivate decision-making, communication, and leadership skills that promote positive relationships with their peers, parents and adults.

Below find an example of how a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco is promoting youth development in her community. Learn more about the Universal Children’s Day at http://www.un.org/en/events/childrenday/.

Peace Corps volunteer Caroline Ayes of Yardley, Pennsylvania, is encouraging Moroccan youth to deepen their understanding of the environment and learn more about each other by organizing an outdoor leadership program. Over the course of seven months, the CLIMB (Creating Leadership in the Mountains and Beyond) program teaches young adults leadership and environmental skills through outdoor excursions and team-building activities, and culminates with a climb to the top of Mt. Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.

“The Moroccan education system emphasizes memorization, which can limit the way a young person engages with learning material,” said Ayes, a graduate of George Washington University who has been living in Morocco since January. “The CLIMB program intends to change this dynamic by challenging participants to think in unconventional ways.”

Hands-on activities that require creativity and perseverance help participants better understand the environment and each other. The CLIMB curriculum also highlights the country’s natural beauty and encourages the next generation of Moroccans to find creative solutions to pressing environmental challenges.

“By bringing together groups of young adults from all over the country, this project exposes them to both the diverse landscapes and the diverse people in Morocco,” Ayes said. “Beyond encouraging environmental consciousness, we’re enabling youth within Morocco to increase their network for future personal and professional opportunities.”

At the end of the program, the participants put their training into practice by hiking to the summit of Mt. Toubkal.

“In these challenging environments, our youth push themselves and stretch their minds in new and unfamiliar ways,” Ayes said. “It is our hope that these life skills will extend far beyond the CLIMB program both in our youth's professional and personal lives.”

A portion of the funding for this project was generated through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), which supports Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide. In order to receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make at least a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators for each project. This helps to ensure community ownership and promote long-term sustainability.

About Peace Corps/Morocco: There are 180 volunteers in Morocco working with their communities on youth development projects. During their service in Morocco, volunteers learn to speak local languages, including: Derija, Tamazight and Tashelheet. More than 4,730 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Morocco since the program was established in 1963.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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