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Youth RISE was started by two visionary, young people who recognized the absence of youth having a voice and a seat at the table in the drug policy and harm reduction arena, so they led the charge to fill the gap. The network was officially launched in 2006 at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Vancouver, Canada. In February 2008, Youth RISE established an International Working Group (IWG) comprised of activists from different regions all over the world.
Since then, 3 generations of IWG have worked together to voice young people who use drugs and those affected by drug policy. Since launching, the network has coordinated youth participation and activities in several international conferences and has participated in numerous committees, meetings and advisories. As Youth RISE continued to grow, the network developed resources and training materials based on the needs and in partnership with young people who use drugs. Youth RISE now assumes a leadership role in advocating for the empowerment of young people who use drugs and their meaningful engagement in drug policy discussions and decisions, and the reform of drug policies for the best interests of young people globally.