International Youth Day

International Youth Day is a United Nations holiday celebrated annually on August 12th. Also called World Youth Day, this date is recognized through worldwide events that discuss the ever-evolving role of the youth in global development, economics, socialization and peace. On top of that, International Youth Day also celebrates the achievements of outstanding members of this age group.

Significance of Global Youth

The United Nations considers the world youth to fall between the ages of 15 and 24. While this age group makes up almost a fifth of the global population, the number is expected to rise in developing nations, where the human population is continuing to grow at a fast rate. Not only does this age group use a great portion of environmental resources, but they are also the world’s future leaders.

You’ve likely heard of the old saying that “children are the future.” While this statement isn’t new, the sentiment behind it is true. By supporting the world’s youth and giving them necessary leadership skills, young people will have the tools and education needed to help support the global community. It is the U.N.’s position that encouraging community volunteerism and involvement is especially important in helping to build peaceful nations of the future.

History

The idea of a holiday to celebrate the youth first transpired during 1991’s World Youth Forum in Vienna, Austria. The event was affiliated with the United Nations, and there were concerns at the time that there was not enough funding for the organization to support youth programs. A World Youth Day was first promoted to help raise money for global youth programs, but it wasn’t adopted right away.

After August 1998’s World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, participants officially made a recommendation for Youth Day to the U.N.’s General Assembly. The date of August 12th was also recommended for the celebrations. The General Assembly officially endorsed this idea in December 1999, and the first International Youth Day was celebrated on August 12, 2000. A special United Nations World Youth Awards ceremony was held in Panama City.

Types of Celebrations

Every year, the U.N. hosts a special event for International Youth Day. At the same time, many countries actively participate by holding government conferences that address important issues concerning teens and young adults, such as access to quality education. Due to global economic crises, high unemployment rates have also been a hot topic addressed during World Youth Day.

On a smaller scale, International Youth Day is celebrated through events, parades and sports games throughout the world. School and communities often give out awards to outstanding youth members who have made a difference. Achievements in the arts and sciences are also often recognized during this holiday. Since some schools are not in session on August 12th, different districts may decide to give out awards during the surrounding school year, or to mail certificates of recognition home to families.

There is also an annual theme for International Youth Day. In 2012, the theme was “Building a Better World: Partnering with the Youth.” 2013’s theme was slated as “Youth Development: Moving Development Forward,” which is aimed to address issues involving the struggles and challenges surrounding migration of the youth population between regions of the world.

By: Kristeen Cherney



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