August is a month of generally pleasant things: sunshine, camping trips, BBQs. As stress starts to build in anticipation of the new school year, and even the end of the year, August is also a great time to slow down and take a second to acknowledge and appreciate the young lives around us. In fact, we can take a full day to celebrate their energy, their passion, their creativity, and their potential, because there’s a day just for that every year: August 12th, International Youth Day. This day brings awareness to issues related to the world’s youth, as well as recognizes the power and influence that young people have within society.
Here are a few meaningful ways you can celebrate International Youth Day, AND involve your community:
1. Be Aware of the UN’s Agenda for Sustainable Development & The Global Goals.
In September 2015, the United Nations launched the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals that will achieve three incredible things. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change.
How does this relate to today’s youth? According to the UN Population Fund, the population of youth between 10 and 24 years old is 1.8 billion, roughly 24 percent of the world’s population. Young people make up a large portion of those most greatly affected by poverty and the other challenges being tackled by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Youth play the most important role in achieving the 17 Goals, have significant potential to impact the mentality of society, and hold the power to shift the fate of our planet.
2. Teach your child about sustainable development.
The theme of 2016’s International Youth Day is: The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production.
Start with defining for your child (and yourself) what “sustainable development” means and how it affects everyone on Earth. The easiest way to teach the concept of “acting sustainably” is to lead by example! The cycle of food, energy, and water waste is perpetuated by a lack of awareness and education on the role each of us plays in safeguarding our planet for future generations. However, teaching youth how to make small, conscious changes in consumption behavior, builds habits and skills that will lead to further sustainable decisions as they grow up.
3. Empower youth to play a role in their own future.
In order to get young people excited to participate in the Global Goals and other local initiatives, they have to be informed, interested, and feel influential in the outcome. Simply telling them that their role is paramount in saving the world, isn’t going to cut it. Begin by educating them about what some of the world’s biggest issues are and the part each person plays in causing or helping to fix those problems.
Next, ask what they are passionate about, what issues they face everyday, or what they would like to change about the world. Listen closely, take notes, and help them pick one of the SDGs that you can both work toward, together. Brainstorm different ways that you can each take small actions every day to make a big difference, and don’t forget to make it fun!
Finally, seek out a local charity or group where you can volunteer and find any other resource you need to help encourage and empower him or her to feel and see the results of their efforts.
4. Participate in or organize an event in your community.
The best way to show you’re serious about supporting youth and making a difference, is to get off the sidelines and get involved! Check your local newspaper or community event calendar for organizations, schools, churches, or youth clubs that could be organizing events and activities nearby. No activities in your area? This a great chance for you to rally your friends, family, and colleagues to initiate a movement of encouragement, awareness and fun for the youth in your community. Get passionate, get creative!
5. Support one of GoAbroad Foundation’s youth-specific projects.
All of the GoAbroad Foundation’s projects aim to improve education, build community, support child welfare, and bring awareness to global issues. Donate to help fund a scholarship for college students, provide feedings for children and youth, or support low-income families in the Philippines.
On top of our current projects, this month the GoAbroad Foundation is partnering with Baale Mane, a home for disadvantaged or abandoned girls in India. By taking the GAF pledge this month, you’ll be supporting the amazing work being done at The Baale Mane, providing essential assistance and services for 50 young girls.
6. Spread the word.
Every single person has the power to make a difference; however, it has been seen throughout history the impact of a single person inspiring a movement of the masses. Luckily, the movement has already been started all over the world. Your job? Be the leader in your community and spread the word on International Youth Day, and everyday. Encourage your network to empower and believe in the world’s youth. Let’s face it, past generations haven’t done a great job at providing the most promising future for the current and coming generations, but it’s not too late to shift the outcome together.
Join the GoAbroad Foundation in creating a brighter future for all of the world’s youth!
This blog was contributed by Dawn Noyes:
Dawn is a Colorado native and born outdoor enthusiast. She completed her business degree at Colorado State University with a concentration in marketing and a minor in French. Currently, she is a social media Community Manager at GoAbroad.com and helps manage the GoAbroad Foundation’s social media presence. When not racking her brain for new, exciting ways to travel the globe with an empty bank account, she focuses on her passion to support global initiatives aimed at creating a strong community of like-minded, global citizens.