August 12th International Youth Day. It was first designated by the UN General Assembly in 1999 with the goal of serving as an annual celebration of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth. Meridian’s Professional Exchanges Division (PED) celebrates the occasion with 22 International Visitor Leadership Program participants who are in the United States on a three week program examining at “Youth and Community Conflict Resolution.” Spending this week in Washington, DC, the visitors have thus far discussed: anti-bullying strategies at the DC Office of Human Rights; strategies for engaging youth positively through the arts with Shout Mouse Press; the role of the federal government in including young people in community service with the Corporation for National and Community Service; and the impact of community violence and police abuse on black and minority youth with Black Women for Positive Change. The Washington program will end with the group volunteering with local youth at Marvin Gaye Park in coordination with Washington Parks and People.
The participants will travel to a number of communities across the country, where they will examine strategies and programs for dealing with gang violence; community policing; the importance of the arts, sports and religious tolerance for positive youth engagement; and, in Los Angeles, combating violent extremism. The group will also interact with young people through peer court and school visits, and will participate in a youth-led peer mediation workshop in New York City.
International Youth Day may only occur annually on August 12. Nonetheless, these international visitors, along with millions of their peers across the globe, bring youth issues to the fore every day to ensure that the potential of young people is never lost to violence, despair or hopelessness.
Hug a young person today and let them know how much you value them!