Youth civic engagement really matters

BY HARNOOR GILL

Grade 11 student

Christ The King Catholic Secondary

Georgetown, Ontario

 

ONE of my favorite days of the year is coming up and I am excited to celebrate it. It’s International Youth Day! International Youth Day was founded by the United Nations to celebrate youth and acknowledge that youth need the world to be successful and ensure the future. This year’s celebration of International Youth Day, on August 12, focuses on youth civic engagement.

My personal goal for this day is to help people find ways to support and promote youth activism and inspire involvement in the local and the global community.   The youth in this world are a precious commodity that needs to be supported and fostered.  Creating opportunities for youth civic engagement is critical to our future and provides youth with a solid foundation of support to help them become contributing healthy members of society while gaining skills to be pro-active in their own lives.

Social media is your best friend to encourage friends to celebrate this in an enthusiastic way. An example is to hold an event to celebrate this day in your community, school, youth club or even workplace.  Consider creating opportunities to bring youth together to volunteer on a community project. Perhaps in your workplace, you could encourage your boss to provide discounted or free services / goods / food for youth on this day to show your community support and appreciation for them. Let’s spread the message and raise awareness on this issue through social media outlets. Social media is great if used for good, otherwise it can create societal problems; so be aware.

Children can often feel as if they don’t belong in mainstream society. They can become marginalized due to factors such as their ethnicity, socioeconomic status or religious beliefs and made to feel like ‘the odd man out’. The reason for their marginalization is due to how mainstream society reacts to those who are perceived to be different for whatever reasons. Children’s minds are like sponges and they soak up information but children also react to how they are looked at.  Many stereotypes can be passed down to children, which makes them less accepting of children they see as different. In order for children to be more accepting of one another, they have to be educated to do so. For this to be possible, school boards must make it mandatory for teachers to preach the importance of equality. Taught this from a young age, children will be more accepting individuals. All in all, a Canada where all children belong will come from children helping other children.

It’s time to chill out for a day and have fun this International Youth Day, and let’s be grateful for all we have and think of how we can help other youth who are less fortunate.