Oksana Kryvoruchko—Inspiring Young Ukrainians to Civic Engagement

Youth radio station lets local voices be heard as students gain skills

Oksana Kryoruchko
Oksana Kryvoruchko, founder of the Slobozhanska youth radio station, operates radio equipment provided by the USAID DOBRE activity.

Oksana Kryvoruchko, a young activist in Ukraine, mobilized young people in her community for what she believed to be a good cause — opening a youth radio station to serve as a new media resource for residents while also teaching high school students journalistic skills. But her original idea has progressed into something far more extensive.

Kryvoruchko, the youngest government employee in Slobozhanska, a community in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, was working as a specialist in the Department for Children, Youth and Family Affairs when she sought to create a greater impact, beyond social work with underprivileged groups.

In June 2017, she was selected for the Dobre DIY (DIY stands for Do It Yourself) Youth Forum in Dnipro, organized by the USAID Decentralization Offering Better Results and Efficiency (DOBRE) activity. The forums are designed to inspire young people to become changemakers and take leadership positions in their communities, equipping them with the skills to assess problems and opportunities, organize and plan projects, and make their voices heard. Kryvoruchko, who is 35, avidly participated, sharing her ideas with others and absorbing what her peers presented.

She was most impressed by how youth projects that others talked about had been successfully implemented. “Previously, I did not really believe that youth was capable of significant changes in the community. The forum changed my perception. The main thing for youth is not the money, but the feeling of being involved,” she recalls.

The idea of a community youth radio station came to her at the forum. Upon return to Slobozhanska, she discussed this idea with her peers and received their support. Together they secured co-funding from the local government, then submitted an application to USAID and received funding.

On March 29, 2018, the youth radio station had its first live broadcast. The station allows local voices, including young activists, to be heard, and helps young people to participate in responsible and free civic journalism. Kryvoruchko plans to expand the radio network further, building on existing journalistic extracurricular activities available for school students and delivering the voice and vision of young people to Slobozhanska decisionmakers.

youth radio station

Today Kryvoruchko is not only mobilizing young people, she is influencing the actions of her local government. After persuading the Slobozhanska City Council about how valuable youth are to a community, at the end of 2017, the council approved a youth development program for 2018–2022. As the force behind the program, Kryvoruchko believes that every community needs the support of local government to address the needs of young people and create opportunities for them.

“For me, the opportunity was the Dobre DIY Youth Forum. It was then that I began to believe in myself. And I want our youth to be able to feel the same.”

USAID’s DOBRE activity, which runs from June 2016 through June 2021, helps local government more effectively deliver services to citizens, respond to their needs, and quickly implement reforms in key sectors. The program also works to increase the involvement of local residents and civil society organizations in local government decision-making, while holding local officials accountable through monitoring and oversight. DOBRE is part of a coordinated package of international donor assistance to the Government of Ukraine to implement nationwide decentralization reforms and ensure the success of newly consolidated communities.