Investing in our future means investing in young people, including in their opportunities to volunteer. United Ways lead and participate in youth volunteer initiatives such as Youth Venture, Youth United, Global Youth Service Day, and other local programs that connect youth to serving their communities. In some parts of the world, however, such opportunities for youth to engage simply don’t exist.
The good news is that the United Nations (UN), with its own volunteer initiatives, is raising awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to both individuals and society. August 12 is International Youth Day and this year’s theme is youth civic engagement, with the idea that young people should and can be empowered to make a contribution to society, development and peace. Among other activities, the UN is running a social media campaign for youth to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities. Young people can share their message by submitting a photograph that relates to the theme, by tweeting ideas and opinions on the theme using #YouthDay. Learn more about International Youth Day and check out this toolkit for great ideas to celebrate the day through service.
As I wrote earlier this year, volunteering can bring about new experiences and genuine connections that can alter the way youth think about their world and approach problems. Here’s to recognizing the promise and potential of youth to work together to make a difference in our communities and to seek common ground – through volunteering and other means – for a lifetime.