KIYO empowers young people to take their lives into their own hands: “Talent is universal, opportunities are not” (Antwerp)

KIYO empowers young people to take their lives into their own hands: “Talent is universal, opportunities are not” (Antwerp)
KIYO empowers young people to take their lives into their own hands: “Talent is universal, opportunities are not” (Antwerp)

KIYO was founded in the 1970s and operates in five countries: Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, the Philippines and DR Congo. “With KIYO we empower children and young people so that they are able to take their lives into their own hands,” says Melodie Arts of KIYO. “We want to empower young people and have a strongly inclusive vision of talent: everyone has talent, but not everyone gets the opportunity to see and develop their talent.”

In Antwerp, KIYO collaborates with youth organizations Youca and Boost and with secondary schools De Stemstroom on Het Eilandje and Sint-Michielscollege in Brasschaat. The latter seems to be an unexpected partner in the story. “That’s right,” says Arts. “Sint-Michielscollege contacted us because the school wants to get its students more out of their bubble. The only condition we impose is that the school must be willing to build a climate that embraces youth participation.”

KIYO now supports around 2,000 young people in Flanders and Brussels. “By 2026 we will have reached 50,000 young people worldwide.” In concrete terms, the organization creates high-quality learning environments that support young people in discovering and developing their talents. “We also make young people aware of their rights and help them to demand those rights.”

More confidence

For Moha Laktit Mohandi (18), that mission has already been achieved. He is in his final year of Electromechanics at De Stemstroom and was introduced to KIYO a few years ago. “They first organized a number of workshops on themes such as children’s rights and diversity,” he says. “We learned that everyone should be able to be who he or she wants to be without being discriminated against. That is a right.”

He felt strengthened by KIYO’s workshops, he says. “For example, I learned to communicate without fear and have become more confident.” At his school he is committed to a better climate for his fellow students. “For example, we developed a ‘solution box’ where students can anonymously report problems they are struggling with. We answer the notes they put in that box and try to help those for whom the threshold to the CLB is too high. And we have started a student council from our class. It’s still there. Through this council, we discuss common problems that students experience with the director and try to find a solution.”

Today he is in a strong position. “I also learned to look broader than my own situation. I think more about things going on in the world. In the past I wasn’t so concerned with that.” He also knows better what he wants. “Continue studying. First at college, then at university.”

Melody and Moha. — © Jan Van der Perre

Benefit concert

KIYO, with headquarters in Brussels, would like to further expand its operations in Antwerp and also make itself more known to the city’s residents. “It is very important for us that we are well anchored in the places where we work. But even though we have been around for more than fifty years, few people know us. We want to change that,” says Melodie Arts.

Starting with a benefit winter concert in the Sint-Norbertus Church on the Dageraadplaats on December 1. The poster features opera singer Astrid Stockman, Finches, organist Emmanuel Van Kerckhoven and the children’s choir from Het Hinkelpad primary school. Ambassador Lien Van de Kelder talks about the evening. “The proceeds go entirely to our youth projects.”

Tickets and information:

The article is in Dutch

Tags: KIYO empowers young people lives hands Talent universal opportunities Antwerp


PREV ‘Buy 1, get 1 free’ HSR package launched to lure foreign visitors
NEXT Gunay Uslu becomes CEO of Corendon, resigns as State Secretary for Media