Each August 12, the world celebrates International Youth Day, a holiday set aside to focus on the difficulties faced by young people around the globe. On this holiday, we consider how we can reduce childhood poverty and how we can make life better for kids worldwide. Back in 1985, the United Nations celebrated its inaugural International Year of Youth, which laid an early foundation for International Youth Day. In 1995, the UN celebrated the initiative’s tenth anniversary by implementing the World Programme of Action for Youth, which established goals and guidelines that could help create a better life for the world’s young people. Finally, in 1999, the UN took things an exciting step further by declaring August 12 International Youth Day. Since then, the world has spent each August considering how we can meet the needs of all global communities and sustainably consume our resources in order to provide young people with a more comfortable present and future.
International Youth Day - Key Moments
International Youth Day
The UN names August 12 International Youth Day
World Programme of Action for Youth
The UN celebrates the initiative’s tenth anniversary by implementing the World Programme of Action for Youth, which establishes goals and guidelines that could help create a better life for the world’s young people
International Year of Youth
The United Nations celebrated its inaugural International Year of Youth
How to Observe International Youth Day
1. Volunteer with young people in your community
A great way to help kids in your area is by simply being there for them. Join a volunteer organization that can help you become a big brother/big sister, help kids practice their schoolwork, deliver food to families in need, or otherwise improve the lives of young people in your community.
2. Educate the kids in your life
If there are children in your life, explain to them in an age-appropriate way that life isn’t always easy for kids around the world, and that not all children have toys to play with or much food to eat. Talk to them about how they can help make a difference for kids in need, and aim to be a positive role model in their lives. Think about ways to improve the lives of the kids you know, and take action whenever possible.
3. Make a donation
Find a charity that aligns with your goals, and donate extra money or items. You can donate children’s books to a local hospital or homeless shelter, drop off groceries at a food bank that serves young families, or donate everyday necessities to a refugee organization. The possibilities are endless!
Why International Youth Day is Important
A. It focuses on building a better world for our children
International Youth Day does more than simply encouraging kids directly. It also lays out a set of priorities to focus on for creating tangible improvements in children’s lives. The fifteen priorities created by the UN include areas of focus like reducing cases of HIV/AIDS, fighting childhood hunger, and providing more access to education.
B. It raises awareness about poverty
Many children go to bed hungry each night, or head to school in the morning without a nutritious breakfast to help them stay focused in class. In the United States alone, 13.1 million kids live in food insecure homes, which means that they and their families don’t have access to enough nutritious food to lead healthy lives/ Children in other countries around the world face similar hardships, and many can find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break free from as they grow into adults. The more aware we are of these issues, the faster we can work together to help eradicate them.
C. It encourages creative thinking for a better future
International Youth Day’s list of actionable priorities encourages others to think about specific things they can do to make a tangible difference in kids’ lives. In recent writings about International Youth Day, the UN has put a strong focus on reducing pollution, sustainably using local products and services so they’ll remain available for the next generation, and ensuring as many communities as possible will have access to resources. Naming such ambitious—but doable—goals serves as inspiration for all of us to think hard about efficient steps we can take to make them happen.