Young People Raising their Voices, claiming their space and standing for what they believe in.
What kind of future do young people want? Instead of answering for them, we gave them the floor. On Saturday 23 May, we hosted an online event called “Youth Voices: The Future We Want” – YMCA Young Leaders spoke with their peers about health & wellbeing, the future of work, climate justice and youth resiliency. Participants joined from all over the world for this unique opportunity to exchange ideas and to be inspired by others.
The event started with two powerful opening statements from António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. To set the agenda for this event, Ms Wickramanayake said: “Claim your space, raise your voice, stand for what you believe and build the future you want”. Special messages of encouragement were received from Forbes, the Obama Foundation, Women Deliver, Edelman and the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers. The Humanity Lab introduced the premiere of #BeTheOne, a new hit song performed by Brazilian singer IZA and US singer Maejor, in support of the UN Sustainable Development goals.
The four panels brought moderators, speakers and participants to reflect on concrete actions to shape the future post-COVID.
- The Health & Wellbeing Panel highlighted how essential it is to address mental health issues, through storytelling, art therapy and safe spaces. The main goal is to “improve the mental, emotional and physical health” during and after this pandemic.
- The Economic Opportunity & The Future of Work Panel encouraged young people to step out, to become actors of their own destiny, to develop their creative ideas and to expand their entrepreneurship mindsets: “young people are equipped and adaptable, don’t hesitate to put yourself out there”.
- The Climate Justice Panel insisted that environmental issues are deeply linked to social justice. This crisis pushes us to question our habits (for instance, burning charcoal for cooking), to rethink the urban design (for instance, making the cities more bicycle friendly) and to strengthen climate activism.
- The Youth Resiliency Panel dealt with the importance of working collaboratively, by mobilizing networks, encouraging social activism and promoting inclusion: “don’t wait to be asked for a seat at the table, take that seat and take others with you”.
“Youth Voices: The Future We Want” was an amazing opportunity to grasp the energy and creativity of young people. From Mexico to Australia, from Madagascar to the UK, from the Philippines to Lebanon, they all shifted their activities online, refocused their programmes and adjusted their actions during COVID-19. This event is at the core of what YMCA is meant to be: a platform for youth empowerment to shine and for global hope to rise. We will follow up on Youth Voices in the next few weeks.
In solidarity !
Full Video of the event of May 23rd – 2020