Youth civic engagement activities and programs are critical for empowering young people to develop their skills and talents; participate in political, economic and social conversations; and become agents of positive change in their communities. Unfortunately, there are limited opportunities for youth around the world to take part in these civic engagement activities, leaving one of the world’s greatest resources untapped. And, as a result, both youth and society miss out on the potential benefits.
The United Nations’ International Youth Day 2015 campaign aims to promote civic engagement and participation of youth in politics and public life, so that young people can be empowered and contribute to society, development and peace. Leading up to International Youth Day (IYD) on August 12, young people are encouraged to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities with the UN and on social media. Children International’s Community Youth Reporters in the Philippines are taking part in this campaign to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to them and their communities.
Children International’s Community Youth Reporters program empowers youth by giving them a voice while helping them develop journalism skills. The youth learn about news writing, interviewing, photography and videography, making them a group that’s well-suited to capture the importance of civic engagement activities around them and communicate that information to others. For the IYD campaign, they are sharing photos of their peers participating in Children International civic engagement activities, including photos of youth learning about social and financial education, participating in sports programs and receiving leadership training. Each photo is accompanied by a caption that explains the significance of the activity.
These activities are important because they teach life and leadership skills, which empower youth, help them become self-reliant adults, and encourage them to contribute to society. Social and financial education, for example, teaches young people their rights, responsibilities and how to save, plan and budget their resources. Involving youth in organized sports programs teaches them teamwork, conflict resolution and perseverance.
But these youth programs and activities don’t just benefit the youth who participate in them. The whole community around them is positively impacted as a result. When youth are educated on social and financial education, they can share that information with their peers. When they receive leadership training and learn life skills, they are able to be better leaders in their communities. Many of Children International’s other youth programs are service-focused, too. Children International’s Youth Council members, for example, promote community volunteerism, serve as spokespersons for their peers and plan projects to address problems in their communities.
In fact, Children International youth around the world are leading and participating in several International Youth Day events in their communities. These events include forums with community leaders on how youth can be involved in civic matters, service projects like youth bringing mobile libraries to communities in need, and educational training sessions on topics like youth leadership.
Children International president Susana Eshleman said, “At CI we believe that youth are agents of transformational positive change in their communities. With our programs, we invest in them so they realize their full potential, can break the cycle of poverty and can be multipliers of opportunity and hope in their communities. There is nothing more inspiring to me than to have the chance to interact with our youth who are visibly excited about what the future holds and deeply committed to help others the way they’ve been helped. This is as good as it gets!”
About Children International
Children International helps kids break free from generational poverty by giving them the support necessary to become self-reliant. Local staff and an 8,000-strong network of passionate, committed community volunteers – working from a network of 80+ community centers in 10 countries – lead a wide range of holistic child and youth development programs. Their goal: Helping kids develop into healthy, educated, empowered and employable adults.
For more information about Children International, visit www.children.org.