Wilfried Yede might look like any other shy, soft-spoken 15-year-old. He is growing tall, and outgrowing his clothes in the process. The teenager may not pay much attention to the latest fashions, but he is bright and active—and involved with radio!
Today, Mr. Yede is meeting up with a friend to study spelling. He explains: “I have a spelling bee coming up in a couple of weeks. I learn new words, new grammar, and that helps with school, and my presenting at the radio—so that I can be more articulate.”
Over the last year, Mr. Yede and nine other teenagers have been learning to produce their own youth shows on Radio Amitié as part of a project run by UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire, in partnership with the Children’s Radio Foundation. Radio Amitié, or “friendship,” is the largest and most popular broadcaster of community radio programs in Yopougon, a town near Abidjan, the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire. The youth programs attract tens of thousands of listeners twice a month.
Mr. Yede and his colleagues call their program L’éveil des enfants, or “The children’s awakening.” He says: “We talk about things that touch us the most as kids; things that often adults may not want to talk about—things like sexual violence, or girls going to school, which are still big problems in our area.”
Stephanie Ake is a radio journalist, presenter, and mentor for youth reporters at Radio Amitié. She says her colleagues didn’t believe that children could learn how to produce programs themselves, but have been pleasantly surprised. Ms. Ake says: “When kids talk about something that adults are a bit uncomfortable talking about themselves, people listen. And the best thing is [that] the ideas are coming from the kids themselves.”
Carelle is one of Mr. Yede’s colleagues at L’éveil des enfants. The 14-year-old carries out several tasks for the program, such as recording interviews, debates, commentaries, and vox pops. She considers herself a specialist in debating.
Carelle has wanted to be a radio journalist since she was nine years old. She recalls: “I saw someone speaking into a microphone, with that confidence, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I used to be very shy, just staying in my corner. But now I get out there, I talk to people, I can express myself, and I’m not afraid to ask questions.”
Ange Aye-Ake is a Communications Specialist with UNICEF in Côte d’Ivoire. He says: “We want to help develop a generation of young people who are not afraid to ask questions, think critically, and participate in the debates … that concern them and their rights as children.”
Mr. Yede says: “Being a child reporter has added a lot to my life. It offers me the opportunity to express myself, particularly around the problems that are specific to my community. Maybe together, talking about these things, we can start to find solutions.”
To read the full article on which this story is based, In Côte d’Ivoire, young reporters connect with their community, go to: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cotedivoire_86044.html 
Photo: Wilfried Yede, a youth reporter in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, talks with his friend Josiane at a local market. Credit: UNICEF