Encouraging Youth to take the Lead

American Youth


“We want the youth to take the lead,” Wendy Schaetzel Lesko, President of the Youth Activism Project stated. This is exactly what 21 young leaders in youth activism are promoting and spearheading in nations across the country.

On Friday, November 8, the group, hosted by Meridian International Center and the U.S Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, met with Ms. Schaetzel Lesko during their program, “American Youth: Inspiring Leadership and Civic Participation.”

In an engaging conversation, Ms. Schaetzel Lesko discussed the necessity of a societal change model moving towards youth led or co-equal collaborated partnerships with adults in which young people would most importantly be heard. She stressed how crucial it is for youth’s ideas and perspectives to be taken seriously and that the youth be given the necessary tools in order to accomplish change. Furthermore, those engaging in change must be passionate about the subject in order to truly advocate it. In order to engage the youth, it is ideal to begin locally, build connections, learn from experiences and setbacks, and ultimately, expand upon and promote the message.

During the interactive appointment, the visitors were able to ask questions, as well as share their ideas and opinions regarding their respective home countries.  Ms. Argyrina Jubani, President of the Albanian Youth Council, deals with very similar issues in her country, concentrating specifically on youth leadership, youth participation and youth empowerment.  She indicated that Ms. Schaetzel Lesko’s passion and accomplishments have given her hope and inspiration, as well as an opportunity to reflect on her own work and leadership in a constructive manner. She was very interested in learning about the practices, tools, and achievements of the Youth Activism Project and is eager to take this knowledge and implement similar practices at the Albanian Youth Council in order to improve its strategies and achieve its goals. Ms. Jubani stated, “I can say for sure that what I learned during this meeting will definitely inspire and affect my work back home and my perception and attitude toward intergenerational partnerships.”

While in Washington, DC, the visitors have also partaken in stimulating appointments with the Department of State’s Office of Global Youth Issues, the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Office of Corporate Relations, as well as panel discussions.

The group continued on to various cities across the country including Albuquerque, Reno, Tucson, Houston, and Jacksonville on various appointments with youth advisory groups, youth councils, interfaith councils, high school programs and not-for-profit organizations. The visitors also had the opportunity to experience a home hospitality, in addition to numerous other cultural activities.

About Wendy Schaetzel Lesko

Ms. Wendy Schaetzel Lesko is the President of the Youth Activism Project, a non-partisan organization promoting youth civic engagement. The organization provides free advice via email and a toll-free hotline in order to advise adults to effectively collaborate with youth in order to encourage them to engage in creating solutions to issues that they are passionate about.