Voices of Youth Maps is a collaboration between UNICEF, youth communities and local governments to bring positive change through direct youth participation. Launched in 2011 the initiative uses the digital mapping technology to create a virtual image depicting the everyday realities, challenges and opportunities encountered by young people. Voices of Youth Maps provides a mobile application and an online platform for young people to identify issues and engage with their communities to positively impact their neighborhoods.
Voices of Youth Maps currently runs in seven countries and territories. Mapping started in Brazil and Haiti and has since spread to communities in Kosovo, France, Bhutan, Argentina and Madagascar. Themes vary – from health risks and sexual abuse in Haiti to environmental hazards in Kosovo. In Brazil and Argentina, the maps cover social and environmental issues such as garbage disposal and safety risks, while the mapping in Bhutan surveys the maintenance of public spaces and transportation. New communities join the initiative every year.
Voices of Youth Maps brings together youth who map their neighborhoods using a mobile application by taking pictures of their surroundings in order to advocate for change within their communities. Communities of young ‘mappers’ collect data that creates a comprehensive virtual map of the community’s physical environment. This virtual map is presented to local authorities as well as spread through social media. In this way, Voices of Youth Maps provides young people with a platform and the necessary tools to transform their communities and the map becomes the instrument of change. Mappers share their experiences on Voices of Youth Maps online where everyone can join the discussion!