“Being a young activist means more than just being involved in the present. It’s about claiming a desirable future,” our ONE Global Activist David Reviriego shared. Although there are plenty of adult activists in the world, there are just as many young people working towards achieving a better tomorrow. The future, our future, is in their hands, and International Youth Day celebrates their work.
Falling annually on 12 August, International Youth Day is recognized by the United Nations to acknowledge the youth who are working to create a better, more just, and equal future and world for everyone, highlighting and celebrating their contributions to our global society.
That’s why in honor of this special day, we spoke with 14 ONE Global Activists from across the globe to find out what International Youth Day means to them.
David Reviriego, ONE Youth Ambassador in France
“Being a young activist means more than just being involved in the present. It’s about claiming a desirable future. It’s being one of the drivers of a utopian change, which, if we persist, will become reality. To sum up, being a young activist is about making our dreamed world a reality.”
Jessica Gill, ONE Youth Ambassador in Cork, Ireland
“Each day, the world’s most vulnerable people suffer from the impact of climate change, poverty, and preventable disease. I am an activist because it is vital to demand justice and hold governments accountable. With technology increasingly connecting us, youth activists are incredibly informed about current affairs and have a wider network, strengthening their impact. They aim to create a better world for future generations through long-term sustainable solutions.”
Will Braden, ONE Campus Leader at Wheaton College, Illinois
“The youth won’t always be the youth. It will eventually be up to us to carry on and rectify the injustices of the past, and the inequities of the present to provide just and equal opportunities in the future.”
Sikemi Okunrinboye, ONE Youth Ambassador in Canterbury, England
“Everyone should have access to basic rights which all revolves around living in an equal world because everybody’s life matters. I hate that people don’t have access to these rights and feel like I have a duty to be a voice and also amplify the voices of others. Youth activists are important because we help shape the future – our future, to be a better place and a more just world.”
Melaku Hailu, ONE Champion in Ethiopia
“International Youth Day to me is a celebration of youth, power, and unity. How young people can impact the world if we put our minds to it. Youth activism is very important because the youth make up a significant amount of the population and they are the ones who will take up the world in the future. So if the youth are instilled with teachings that promote unity, equality, and environmental well-being, they can help the world reach greater height than imagined and change it for the better. They can drive economic prosperity and come up with innovative ideas that will help many people living in poverty and hardship.”
Kush Pandit, ONE Campus Leader at Virginia Tech University
“Youth activism is important because by engaging our youth in social issues, we grow young adults into superior citizens who will one day be the nation’s leaders. Without youth activism, we fail to ingrain the importance of being civically engaged into our youth, which weakens the bond of society as a whole. Youth activism to me is a form of self-learning and personal growth used to better the world.”
Illan Dunne, ONE Youth Ambassador in Kilkenny, Ireland
“Youth activism is about having your say, having the voices of young people, factored into the decision-making process. But most importantly, youth activism is about engaging your friends, your family, your fellow youths. Showing them what can be achieved. Showing that young people can and should be taken seriously. I am a youth activist because other youth activists have shown me what is possible.”
Micah Kyler, ONE Youth Ambassador in Arizona and Washington, D.C.
“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. They will soon be making difficult decisions about how the governments and countries of the world should be run. That is why it is so important for young people around the globe to be civically engaged and involved in decision-making processes and feel empowered to bring about real change. Their dreams and aspirations are the key to a better future.”
Jakob WN Bacon, ONE Youth Ambassador in Ayrshire, Scotland
“Youth activism is at the forefront of everything I do. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow: we are change-makers. I am an activist as I believe if the youth of today don’t step up, we will live in a world of never-ending injustice. The youth are the heart of activism. We lead, we inspire, and most of all, we are POWERFUL — act now, then, and forever.”
Elan West-Badminton, ONE Campus Leader at University of Montana
“It is our responsibility as youth to create a future in which all people have equal access to opportunity… The youth are the future and it is our responsibility to make sure it is a bright one!”
Felix Onyango, ONE Champion in Kenya
“International Youth Day gives a chance to demand for recognition of the right of young people to be heard and to have their views explored broadly. This demand implies a progressive change in youth-adult interactions in all facets of life that range from the family, schools, local communities, social services, to the government. With this worldview, it will be much easier to eliminate endemic structural problems such as poverty, discrimination, and injustice that require inter-generational approach in the society.”
Christiana Hunsaker, ONE Campus Leader at Weber State University, Utah
“International Youth Day means acknowledging issues that affect our youth on a day-to-day basis as well as how those topics will affect our future generations. Youth activism is crucial in having our voices heard and preventing future problems from occurring.”
Catherine Pegler, ONE Campus Leader at the University of Kansas
“As youth, our voices are important because we are educated on what we stand for and will live through the aftermath of policy implementations.”
Stevan, ONE Youth Ambassador in the Netherlands
“It is crucial that everyone makes themselves heard and defends what they stand for: this way we can support everyone to make the world better.”