TeensLIVE Youth Fest 2023: Empowering Youth, Inspiring Change

TeensLIVE Armenia, supported by UNESCO IITE, triumphantly hosted the TeensLIVE Youth Fest 2023 on December 16, 2023, in Yerevan. The event drew over 250 attendees, a diverse mix of teenagers and parents, who engaged in empowering discussions on vital issues like HIV/AIDS, mental health, and bullying.

Enlightening Sessions and Inclusive Conversations:

The Fest commenced with an energetic opening ceremony led by Arusyak Mkrtchyan, Head of TeensLIVE Armenia project, with the active participation of Ekaterina Samolygo, UNESCO IITE Youth Projects Coordinator, setting the stage for a day filled with informative sessions and enriching activities. National experts on health and well-being, Marina Melkumova and Eva Movsesyan, also extended a warm welcome to the participants.

The first session, titled “Learn More About HIV,” catered specifically to teenagers. Led by Tatev Nalbandyan from the “Real World, Real People” NGO, and supported by influencer Araksya Khachatryan, the session delved deep into the complexities of HIV infection. Beginning by debunking common myths about HIV, the duo explored prevention strategies and provided insights into suitable contraceptive options for the youth.

In the subsequent segments of the session, the speakers explored the intersection of gender and HIV, they also examined how both living with HIV and societal attitudes can significantly impact individuals’ mental well-being. The interactive session centered on stress reduction techniques and mental health support was well-received and greatly appreciated by the participants. In the session’s culmination, a spirited discourse unfolded on existing youth initiatives dedicated to enhancing awareness about HIV. Participants engaged in posing queries and familiarized themselves with Armenian and international resources, offering essential support in navigating these complex issues.

Simultaneously, parents participated in “HIV / What Should The Parent Know?,” led by Zhenya Mayilyan, president of the “Real World, Real People” NGO. This session began with an introduction to HIV basics, followed by segments exploring family dynamics and support, as well as conscious parenting when one parent is HIV-positive.

The afternoon continued with a session tailored for teenagers, titled “Discover Your Inner Potential,” led by WHO and UNESCO expert Nune Vardanyan, as well as journalist and influencer Zara Ghazaryan. The session explored topics centered around maintaining mental well-being, effectively managing anxiety, and fostering resilience to stress.

Concurrently, parents attended “Difficult Period for The Parent or PUBERTY,” which began with an exploration of adolescence, followed by discussions on recognizing and managing teen stress, building resilience in teenagers, and self-care for parents.

The evening hours saw the convergence of teenagers and parents in a joint session titled “Bully-Proof: Understanding, Empowering, and Taking Action“, led by psychologist Anahit Arzumanyan and TeensLIVE Program Manager Arusyak Mkrtchyan. The session addressed the psychology of bullying, the role of bystanders, recognizing and addressing bullying, and empowering both teenagers and parents with strategies to combat bullying. An interactive activity, “The Bullying Prevention Journey,” facilitated group discussions.

Furthermore, a range of creative edutainment activities were organized, adding a dynamic dimension to the event. These included a game designed to challenge and break down stereotypes, engaging workshops on the art of origami and crafting Christmas decorations. Additionally, participants had the opportunity to delve into an expressive artistic session guided by the expertise of the distinguished artist Alice Azatyan and psychologist Mane Sogoyan.

Participant Feedback Reflects Impact:

TeensLIVE volunteers shared, “The Fest was one of the most memorable youth events in 2023. I hope a similar event will be held next year!”, “I’m surprised at how well-informed the audience turned out to be on issues related to HIV/AIDS. That’s great! Many people learned about it in TeensLIVE communities on social media.” A participant noted, “Thanks to the mental health session, I learned about the mental health issues that teenagers may have. The psychologist’s tips were very practical; I will definitely apply them.”

Building Connections:

More than 250 parents and teenagers actively participated in the Fest’s information and edutainment sessions. TeensLIVE teamed up with popular youth-favored influencers for a social media campaign to tell about the Festival and achieved an impressive reach with visibility from over 210 thousand individuals. The Fest’s success was secured through strategic partnerships with leading experts and influencers, coupled with the diligent work of dedicated volunteers.

UNESCO IITE and TeensLIVE express gratitude to participants, volunteers, influencers, and partners, including “Real World, Real People” NGO, Parenting School Armenia, and Mental Health Awareness Initiative, for contributing to the Fest’s success. We remain committed to creating inclusive spaces, fostering positive change within the community.

About TeensLIVE Armenia project

TeensLIVE Armenia is an engaging youth digital media project, supported by UNESCO IITE, with a core mission to offer comprehensive health and relationship education to adolescents and young people in Armenia. Leveraging online tools and social media platforms, TeensLIVE Armenia covers an extensive array of essential topics, including the transformations experienced during adolescence, physical and reproductive health, mental well-being, prevention of HIV infection and various diseases, interpersonal relationships, gender equality, human rights, violence and bullying prevention, as well as media literacy.