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International Youth Day Empowers Young People

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International Youth Day is celebrated each year on August 12. The purpose is to bring attention to youth issues. And to celebrate the potential of young people as partners in our global society.

The United Nations recognized International Youth Day in 1999.  So, on August 12, 2000 the first International Youth Day was celebrated worldwide!

This day is a great opportunity for all of us to learn about important issues affecting young people. More importantly, we can engage with young people to address those issues.

As a youth worker, you can use this day to uplift young people. It's so important to take time to honor all the incredible young people around the globe. Your work empowers them to make positive contributions to their communities.

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    Why International Youth Day matters

    International Youth Day empowers young people. And it bring awareness to issues that matter deeply to them. It also helps adults and world leaders think about their duty to help young people reach their goals.

    There are a host of cultural, ethical, and legal issues that impact young people all around the globe. Matters of social justice, equality, and inclusion affect them deeply. And young people are more than capable of leading change - they do it every day!

    So celebrate their voices. Support their actions. Encourage their activism. Because their full engagement in our communities makes the world better for everyone. And it encourages even more young people to work for change.

    Theme for International Youth Day 2022

    Each year has its own unique theme. The theme for 2022 is Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages.

    This theme highlights how important it is for every generation to work together for positive change. But ageism makes it difficult to collaborate across age groups. Ageism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s age. It’s rarely addressed but has a profound impact on human rights and development.

    Young people face age-related barriers in many areas of their lives. For example, employment, political participation, health, and justice. These obstacles negatively impact their well-being.

    Further, ageism stops us from creating policies and services that are equitable and fair for people of all ages.

    When ageism intersects with other forms of bias like racism or sexism, people are further prevented from reaching their full potential. And that stifles their ability to contribute to their communities.

    If we want all young people to grow into thriving adults that positively develop their unique skills and talents, we need to build intergenerational solidarity.

    Ways to celebrate

    As youth workers, there’s no doubt we care about the local and global issues young people are navigating.

    Celebrating and raising awareness on International Youth Day gives us ideas for empowering young people all year long. Here are some ways you can celebrate.

    • Get involved in or host an International Youth Day event such as workshops and cultural events
    • Attend concerts and parades
    • Highlight youth-led initiatives
    • Support youth activities and volunteer projects
    • Show an interest in what young people are thinking and doing
    • Watch films, read books, and make posters about youth issues. It's a great way to learn. But also a way to bring fun activities to your youth programs!
    • Check out educational radio shows, debates, and round table discussions between youth and adults to exchange ideas and initiate steps toward change

    Many events intentionally engage national and government officials and youth organizations to participate around the world. In fact, the United Nations organizes a global webinar that features speakers from many walks of life.

    Celebrating the voices of our young people and bringing youth issues to light matters now more than ever. As we continue to navigate a global pandemic we need new voices, dialogue, and solutions.

    If we all work together today, we can build a better future with and for every young person.

    About the author

    Jade Schleif is the training coordinator of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), a non-profit association of youth-serving organizations. We're your source for exceptional, affordable, personal and professional online learning via The Professional Youth Worker.  Join us!

    Join us! To ask Jade a question or share your feedback about this blog, email jade@yipa.org.

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