On August 12th, 1977, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate August 12th as International Youth Day, an occasion dedicated to promoting an understanding of youth issues and mobilizing support for young people worldwide. To this day, International Youth Day (IYD) has been celebrated in more than 160 countries around the world. But what exactly does IYD mean? What are its origins? Why should you care about it? Let’s take a look at 7 simple things to remember about IYD!
What is International Youth Day?
Today, millions of people around the world celebrate International Youth Day. But what is International Youth Day? When is it observed and why does it matter? Many people have no idea that there’s an annual day devoted to celebrating young people and promoting positive change for them. It’s true: Every year, on 12 August, youth around the world stand up for their rights and hold events geared towards making a difference in society. The theme for 2017 is Young People: Changes Agent of Peace as part of a continued push to combat violence against young women. Here are seven simple things you should know about International Youth Day.
1) It’s all about the young people
You can’t stop an idea whose time has come—especially if that idea is your voice, and you are one of nearly 1 billion young people in our world today. International Youth Day reminds us to listen to what young people have to say, give them a platform from which to speak, and empower them with experiences so they can take on new responsibilities and roles. If you are already committed to youth development in your community or organization, use International Youth Day as a reminder of why that is important. If you haven’t yet engaged young people at your organization, it’s time to start! International Youth Day may be just what you need as motivation!
2) Exchanging youth experiences
One of the most effective ways to inspire change around an issue is by inviting people to live another’s experience. Make it your goal to help at least one other person go through an experience that may be drastically different from their own. Take, for example, if you want to get better at communicating with your employees—go work for a small startup as an intern. If you want to understand what it’s like working in business development—become a sales associate and learn how they use your products or services daily. The more unique experiences you have, whether they are new professional roles or completely different cultures, will help expand your thinking and better prepare you for challenges ahead.
3) Making a difference
The world is made up of more than 7 billion people, but it only takes one to make a difference. If you’re interested in making a global impact through volunteering, check out these 12 organizations that will help you develop your skills and build your resume while giving back to others. Whether you’re interested in architecture or zoology, there are opportunities for young people around the globe. Plus, since some programs may be funded by your school or by public-service grants—you might not even have to pay! Give back and see a new part of the world at once. A win-win!
4) Safe Places for Youth
We are a youth-oriented society and now more than ever, young people are experiencing stressors and challenges that can negatively impact their emotional health. It is important to provide a safe place for youth; whether it be a school guidance counselor’s office or a community center, providing an outlet for children during hard times is crucial. This allows them to remain in class and focused on their education without having to worry about their problems at home or in school.
On a day that is supposed to be about celebrating our youth, it’s important to remember they are still vulnerable. Every day can be dangerous for them—especially if they have nowhere safe to go. There are many organizations across America dedicated to providing shelter and support for homeless and at-risk youth. If you’d like to help, consider donating time or money—even just a few dollars will make a difference in someone’s life. Check out local programs or visit one of these national organizations: YMCA: Youth & Child Services United Way: 211 Information line National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-RUNAWAY Covenant House Nine Square Girls Nine Square Community Mental Health Center HOPES Center for Women & Girls St.
5) Recognizing UNICEF’s 70th anniversary
The United Nations’ theme for 2019 is The Children’s Agenda: Leave No Child Behind which has been adopted by UNICEF, along with its partners. A few ways to mark UNICEF’s 70th anniversary on June 26 include: signing an online pledge or holding a discussion with your friends and family about how each of us can help ensure that all children receive health care, nutritious food, education, and protection from violence. There will also be a free concert in New York City featuring singer Pink to celebrate UNICEF’s 70th anniversary at Madison Square Garden; you can buy tickets here. Alternatively, simply volunteer to tutor or mentor children in your community—the UN Foundation provides great resources for finding local organizations working on education-related projects.
6) Youth Action for Enduring Development
In celebration of today, here are some ideas for things to do with your family. International Youth Day began in 1979 to honor young people and encourage world leaders to support youth issues. 1. Host a movie night: Watch a documentary on global social change or an inspirational true story about activism. 2. Help out at your local food bank: Maybe no IYD festivities are going on at your school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it! Volunteer at a local food bank and pack donations or work as cashiers or even help with cooking meals for clients!
7) Some activities to get involved in!
Let’s start with a simple, but powerful, idea. Kids want to have fun and they want to be heard. They are quick learners and can become experts in an area of their choosing if given enough time and encouragement. Regardless of their age or grade level, most kids have dreams they believe will make them special in some way—it’s our job as parents, teachers, mentors, and guardians to help them see that those dreams can come true. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and make a difference in someone’s life today!
So, what are you waiting for?
IYAD is a U.N sponsored day to celebrate and recognize young people’s potential for positive social change around the world. The annual event takes place on August 12, with its theme changing each year, such as last year’s Youth in Action for an Inclusive Planet. This theme emphasized bringing people of all races, cultures, and classes together to work towards a more inclusive society. If you are working with youth or considering doing so in any capacity — whether it be as a volunteer or professional — use today as an inspiration to make a difference with young people in your life.