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Young Agents of Change

When Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete, a Chilean, was in his twenties, he decided to protect the blue whale, this magnificent and endangered marine mammal. With the support of other young people, the marine biologist began a struggle that continues today to ensure that the Chilean government declared the coastal waters south of the country a protected area. "Things are changing", says a satisfied Hucke-Gaete.

Something similar motivated Carlos Argüello, who opened in Guatemala a branch of his successful Hollywood business of animation and special effects to provide work and knowledge to the youth of his country. Or Carla Fernández, who decided to rescue Mexican artisans with ancestral knowledge about textiles by helping them adapt to the latest fashion designs. Or the Argentinean Rodrigo Fuentes, who participates as a volunteer in A Roof for My Country, a regional umbrella organization that builds homes for low-income people.

From all corners of the region, thousands of young people, between the ages of 15 and 30, responded to the call of the Agents of Change campaign created by the IDB Youth Program and MTV Latin America.

Thousands of young people applied to become agents of change and 25 were selected to be interviewed by MTV to share their experiences on how they have made a difference in their communities. The purpose of the campaign is to inspire other young people in the region to be agents of change in their own communities.

The wide range of recipients is evidence that young people are willing to help their communities and be agents of change in the most diverse areas. Any initiative is possible within the horizon of boys and girls who are "familiar with their surroundings, dream of a better world, find a space for change, share with others their concerns, create an action plan and reflect and evaluate their impact ", suggests the IDB-MTV guide to youth who want to become agents of change.

The Youth Program was presented to the IDB Board of Governors Annual Meetings, as part of the new initiatives to promote youth participation in activities that help them escape poverty and to integrate as productive members of their communities.

Most of the young Agents of Change state that they receive much more than they give, that there is a big difference between seeing and assimilating what you see, that you have to change your attitude and be daring. Iván Centeno, a Panamanian who builds houses with donated materials to the poor, disagrees with the traditional saying that youth is the future. "We want to be part of the solution now", he says.

Agents of Change provides youth in the region an open forum on their experiences to improve their environment and promote their participation in areas with impact on their development such as education, technology, employment, entrepreneurship , environment, health, sports for development, violence prevention and community services.

The initiative now reaches more than 22 million households in Latin America and 32 million in the U.S. through MTV and Tr3s. Agents of Change has also produced a video which shows the experiences of the 25 young people honored with the title for the social impact of their projects. It also has two virtual communities: www.MTVagentesdecambio.com and www.MTVreporterosdigitales.com

In May 2010, during the Festival of World Media in Hamburg, Agents of Change campaign won the special prize for best campaign for their efforts to improve society.

The Youth Program, an initiative of the IDB since 1995 that promotes the active participation of youth in Latin America and the Caribbean on development, has established a network of more than 10,000 youth organizations whose members are young leaders and social entrepreneurs.

The Youth Program promotes public awareness in different sectors of society regarding the participation of youth in development and it has established a powerful network of alliances with partners as significant as MTV Latin America, Microsoft, Nike Foundation, Ashoka Foundation, OAS, UNESCO, UNICEF and others.

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