Humanitarian campaign incentivizes youth to raise awareness

IHL group photo by Jason Kalinowski, Red Cross Stuttgart Station       

By Mika Taylor
IHL Youth Action Campaign
Stuttgart High School

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Youth Action Campaign is an educational operation which encourages adolescents to reach out and educate their community on issues involving the aforementioned laws in place.

This year, a youth group in the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart community is advocating the essentials of IHL, with an emphasis on spreading awareness of Health Care in Danger (HCiD). HCiD addresses the issue of violence against patients, health workers, facilities and vehicles, and ensures safe access to, and delivery of, healthcare in armed conflict and other emergencies.

The group was first formed in November 2018 after youth volunteers signed up for a training course on IHL and HciD. The group hopes to achieve a greater public outreach and awareness on this topic by setting up informational tables at events, such as the recently held Baby Expo on Patch Barracks. To gain the attention of adolescents, the group also held a presentation at Stuttgart High School, March 25, explaining the purpose of the campaign and making students aware of the issues at hand so they, in turn, tell others about what they learned.

In addition to events, the group has created a digital movement through social media. Every individual member of the campaign works to obtain a certain amount of views and engagement in informational posts on various social media platforms to track and expand the campaign audience.

When asked about the importance of youth-directed campaigns such as this one, Keona Kaneshiro, overall project leader, said learning how to teach her peers about HDiC and IHL is unlike any school project you get.

“The IHL team has to focus on what gets the attention of our peers, and how to engage them in a way that they learn about an issue outside of their own lives, while also learning their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to working with a group,” Kaneshiro said.

Although this year’s campaign is scheduled to end late April, the IHL Youth Action Campaign  group is continuously employing the talent of adolescents in the Stuttgart community to garner attention, not only for the issues at hand today, but to encourage sign-ups for next year’s campaign.

(Editor’s note: In addition to being a senior at SHS, Mika Taylor is a Stuttgart military community volunteer and Gold Award Girl Scout. She is interested in pursuing a career as a foreign service officer.)