International Youth Day: “Create opportunities for all”POSTED: 08/14/15 9:43 AM
St. Maarten – The United Nations General Assembly designated International Youth Day on August 12, 1999. It is observed every year with the aim to celebrate the contribution that youth make to the society. This day also provides opportunities to raise awareness on the challenges and difficulties faced by the world’s youth. The theme for this year is Youth Civic Engagement. It serves as the main goal of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP) and seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive civic engagement at all levels. In fact, there has been recent increasing attention, policy and programming focus on youth civic engagement by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers.
“The commitment and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. Nevertheless the opportunities for youth to engage economically and socially are low or non-existent,” the youth council association writes in a press release. “Additional efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and to society, including for sustainable development as well as resilience and wellbeing. This campaign aims to promote civic engagement and participation of youth in politics and public life, so that young people can be empowered and bring a full contribution to society, development and peace.”
The St. Maarten Youth Council Association, aims to support young people’s life choices and their sense of responsibility, as well as to increase their participation in humanitarian or other fruitful activities in achieving better tomorrow. “We believe in establishing an environment that encourages and stimulates moral values and personal growth through volunteering in order to facilitate their skills, motivations and experiences and undertake responsibilities for young people’s social risks and place in society,” the association stated. “Through the work of the Sint Maarten Youth Parliament, we strive to bring youth issues to the attention of the wider community while celebrating the potential of youth as partners of constructive change in today’s global society. We believe that effective youth participation is about creating opportunities for all youth to be involved in influencing, shaping, designing and contributing to policy and the development of services and programs.”
The youngsters also have a piece of advice: “As our country goes through a difficult period of mourning and reflection, let us grasp the necessity of our youth to be actively engaged on all fronts in the growth and development of our nation. Let us not only give lip service to programs and initiatives, but actively support the efforts of our youth and youth organizations as they strive to shape young hearts and minds to be productive members of our community. Let us encourage those who are disenfranchised and/or standing on the sidelines to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them.”