Between the 16th and 18th of February a technical consultation on healthy lifestyle education was held in Istanbul, organized by UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (UNFPA EECARO) in cooperation with UNESCO Moscow Office, WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO Europe), UNICEF Regional Office for Central, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (UNICEF RO CEE/CIS), the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), and IPPF European Network (IPPF EN). I have participated in this consultation representing Society for Education on Sexuality and Education from Romania and I am gladly sharing with you this experience, as it was seen through my eyes, starting from the following question: how many ideas can you fit in three days?
A lot, of course. But this is not the relevant question here. The question is: what can you do with all those ideas you gather in three days of a technical consultation on healthy lifestyle education? The same answer, a lot, is much more powerful in this context. As Gunta Lazdane (Programme Manager for Sexual and Reproductive Health at WHO Europe) well pointed out and I am now paraphrasing, it is not about how much information and data we have already collected, it is about what we can do with them when we get back home. For me, these words express exactly what I was expecting to get out from a technical consultation and I want to share with you my very honest thoughts about my first international experience of this sort.
Let me start with the last day, when we all sat in country groups and worked on the specific challenges, strategies, and capacity-building needs in our regional context. It was probably more challenging as I was the only expert from Romania, but I managed to build upon the two previous days of presentations and proudly came up with a very useful country report. What were these two days about? On day one adolescence was defined and contextualised and it was very well pointed out how important the multi-sectorial collaboration is. As change is the only thing constant in life (said first by François de la Rochefoucauld), we also took the time to look closely and to better understand the sustainable development goals that are currently being discussed for the post 2015 agenda. On the second day, we looked more into specific country and regional situations and sumarised the current patterns and trends in the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people. We had the opportunity to share experiences and expertise and to have very fruitful discussions on various issues regarding access to healthy lifestyle education. Altogether with the international resources and tools presented in the last day, the first two days contributed highly to the development of a very useful country report, including the specific planning for the near future.
The three days consultation on healthy lifestyle education was an extraordinary experience for me and was definitely not only about disseminating information, but also about sharing and acting. It definitely motivated me to find better solutions and inspired me to do so. But probably the most important thing is that it made me realize that we are all so diverse and yet so similar and that as long as we fight together we will ultimately make a change, the change we all want and need: a world full of possibilities for young people, a world in which every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
Anamaria Suciu, Society for Education on Contraception and Sexuality, Romania