As youth, we have a unique perspective on the world. Though most of us have not spent more than 16 or 17 years on this earth, we possess a fire within us and a sense of adventure. We set outstanding goals and believe anything is possible. We come in willing to learn and absorb all that we can. “No” is the fuel to our fire. There may be obstacles set in front of us and all the odds stacked against what we are fighting for, but some way we find it in us to keep fighting and pushing.
Photo: Rachelle poses with a sign she created as part of a “Girls Speak Out” activity. Her words, and the words of other young women at the Summit, will be submitted to the United Nations to become a part of the momentum for change at International Day of the Girl (October 11, 2014).
If people don’t invest in the youth now, and if the youth don’t act now to educate themselves soon, there cannot be a bright future. It is important that young people acquire a voice and knowledge of global issues so we can ensure that the world will be the way we want it. If we are in touch with the world and know about the issues, our voice can make a difference.
I got involved in a YUGA club at my school in my freshman year. I was concerned about global issues, but I didn’t know too much about them or where to start.
Fast forward to now, I am going to be a junior and the president of my school’s YUGA club. Being in a YUGA club, I have learned so much about global issues and I have grown to enjoy learning about the world around me and different cultures. But going to the YUGA Summit was a whole new experience. I hoped to become a leader, find my voice, and be able to stand out in the crowd. Within the span of the 5-day Summit, I can say I have done all of these things and the fire within me has grown and my voice is growing louder.
I witnessed a spark in every one of the Summiters. There is a whole network of amazing youth who have the passion and fire within them. They harvest this flame and focus it on global issues. It was amazing to see a group of people my age that actually cared about things bigger than twitter and hanging out with their friends. The youth involved in YUGA are enthusiastic, passionate, eager to learn, and ready to take action to make a difference in the world around them.
Rachelle (left) and Nicole (right) present their solutions to the challenge of finding clean water at this year’s YUGA Leadership Summit.
Along with the Summiters, there is a community of adults who believe in youth. They are there to help mold and guide them into the leaders and pioneers of change that they need to be. Most important, there is an organization, Plan International USA, who sees the potential youth can have to bring new insights to discussions about world issues and decision making processes.
Everyone has the drive in them, yet some may not know how to embrace it, or what to do with it. Others may be scared to speak up because they believe their voice alone can’t make a change. But the first and most important thing youth can do is find others that will support what they believe in. A group of people that band together and back each other up can make all the difference and help others realize their true power. No matter the size of the group, everyone must have the excitement and passion to take action, which can make all the difference. The support you need is out there, like the adults in YUGA who know the importance of youth empowerment and see the power of young peoples’ voices.
After becoming passionate about something, youth immediately gather their peers and educate them. Their passion becomes contagious.
Youth can create change with a different attitude that adults would. Youth are the ones with the fire in them, want to improve the world they live in and crave change.
To all youth interested in global issues: You need to use your passion to be proactive. You can be the change. You must have the fire within you and the desire to learn.