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Kicking off the new year: 'OUR YEAR, OUR VOICE'

Yasmine Cathell's picture

The International Year of Youth officially begins on August 12th, 2010.  While youth bring excitement, optimism and revolutionary ways of looking at things to the table, it’s nice to see that this gift of the younger generations is recognized and encouraged by the part of society controlling decision making: the older folks. 

I couldn’t help but wonder what exactly the International Year of Youth means.  Well I found out that this is not the first and clearly will not be the last of such years.  Beginning in 1985 the UN General Assembly decided to create a forum or hypothetical venue, if you will, to try and harness some of the energy and initiative of the world’s youth.  Every year the General Assembly chooses a new theme and then organizes international events which encourage and foster youth involvement and action.  The United Nations has designated the theme for this Year of Youth to focus on “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.”  (UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/64/134)

“The International Year is about advancing the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society. We encourage all sectors of society to work in partnership with youth and youth organizations to better understand their needs and concerns and to recognize the contributions that they can make to society."

Another hope is that youth will dedicate themselves to helping societies bring an end to social ills such as hunger, human rights abuses, poverty, and lack of education.  These are just a few of the issues the Millennium Development Goals hope to eradicate by the year 2015, however, it will be quite an impossible task if the world’s youth, who make up roughly 1.7billion of the world population, are not involved.

But if the International Year of Youth has been going on for 25 years now and we still have the same problems in our societies of hunger, lack of education, human rights abuses and economic hardships, how do we know that this Year of Youth will actually accomplish anything?  What were the ideas of last year’s youth?  Or the youth of ten years ago? Have those ideas been implemented?  And if so what was the impact?  In order to properly motivate the youth of today, it would be helpful to be able to give them some positive reinforcement. 

That said, we should still get involved in our communities and try to improve upon societal ills.  Start small, don’t try to change the world (all at once), but at least make one person’s life a little better.  Here are a few links about getting involved with the International Year of Youth:

Participate! Plan an event or find one in your area.

Calendar of Events! Find out what’s going on when.

2010 World Programme of Action for Youth! Outline of the 15 priority areas and their corresponding proposals for action. It also includes the means for implementation at the national, regional and international levels.