By Clara Machado
How are new leaderships formed in social movements? At Mid-Juruá, the Young Protagonists project is a grand school for new leadership qualification. Before the project was established in the region, the elderly saw the youth as uninterested and irresponsible. There was a serious concern about passing on the social movement and the foundational association’s torch, because the young people did not seem ready.
With the help of the Young Protagonists movement, an initiative originated in Tefé by ICMBio in 2010, the opinion of the youth changed. Many young people empowered themselves and invited even more people to the project, strengthening Mid-Juruá’s culture, community, and social movement.
According to Raimundo Nonato, a youth leader of Comunidade São Raimundo, in the Extractive Reserve, “the Young Protagonists Project was created with a purpose. Firstly, to deliver the message that we are responsible. Secondly, to empower us as young leaders, who participate in movements and associations. And thirdly, we wanted our parents’ support, who before didn’t trust us that much. We also wanted to awaken the youth to the fact that we’re losing the battle against violence, drugs, and urban culture”.
Nowadays, these young people are trendsetters, who occupy public spaces as leaders—they are counselors and community leaders present at every grassroot organization. The trust in them was renewed, and the torch will be passed on to a new generation capable of sustaining Mid-Juruá’s legacy. Young people who are aware of their ancestors’ past are now ready to make Mid-Juruá progress even further.