Youth advocacy is everything.
Through the empowerment of youth and nurturing of young voices, we collectively shape and invest within the future. Through the encouragement of young people developing leadership skills, we establish a path for innovative ideas, passion and advocacy to shine through. Youth are particularly demonised within the media as being disengaged, indifferent to world affairs, narcissistic and victims to the prevailing culture of social media. We however, rebut that presumption and argue that we are passionate, forward thinking, engaged and have new light and innovative solutions that can deal with intergenerational issues. As a Youth Advocate myself, I can testify;
Youth Advocacy is everything – Youth are everything.
National Youth Week runs from the tenth until the nineteenth of April as a celebration of the engagement of people from twelve to twenty-five years of age. It is a time of recognition for the success of youth and empowerment and motivation for other. The government-run event fosters ideals of community bonds, creating links and friendships and highlighting that young people are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but leaders right now – today.
My 2015 National Youth Week experience exemplified these values. The YMCA NSW Youth Parliament residential camp and the YMCA NSW Parliament Primary Schools Program commenced during this allocated week. The YMCA Youth and Government suite of programs underpins the values of Youth Week 2015 ‘It Starts With Us’.The YMCA NSW Youth and Government suite of programs, gives young people a voice in the running of NSW. This is imperative as young people do not have the ability to vote, yet have great vision and can make a valuable contribution to societal debate. The apolitical program, as all programs within the broader YMCA Youth and Government division, aims to promote youth-led advocacy, active community leadership and legal and parliamentary education.
Youth Parliament in particular teaches young people about the parliamentary process, by allowing representatives to discuss policy through either a Bill or Report. Said areas of investigation are strictly ‘policy not politics’, allowing participants to leave their affiliations at the door and address overarching societal issues. Debating and public speaking skills are strengthened through discussions between participants and facilitator of the program. Leadership and personal growth are inextricably linked within the suite of programs. It is instilled as a value that leadership is more than achieving a position of notoriety, instead it is about maximising your potential, achieving personal goals and establishing good friendships with other participants. It’s about kindness, friendship, harmony, respect and initiative.
Participants have the ability to make real change by speaking within both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council in front of Parliamentarians, media organisations and members of the public. The work done by these leaders is invaluable, evident within he fact that multiple propositions of law reform are current laws within New South Wales.
This is not a program that allows young people to invest in corporate wear and ‘mock’ being politicians within the Chambers of Parliament. No –
This is a program that allows budding change-makers taste what it means to sit in the Legislature and debate pertinent issues and matters of importance within the state they reside and love.
We are all leaders –
Indeed, ‘It Starts With Us’!
About the YMCA:
The YMCA is a vibrant, self-funding, not-for-profit charity delivering contemporary programs focused on family, healthy living, developing young people and those less fortunate. The Y’s ability to positively impact people’s lives, strengthen communities and respond proactively to many of today’s biggest social challenges is significant, with its diverse programs and services delivered to over 40 communities across NSW in more than 110 locations, generating in excess of four million visits per year.
YMCA NSW Youth and Government Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ymcayouthandgovernment?fref=ts
YMCA NSW Youth and Government Webpage: http://www.ymcansw.org.au/centres/youth-government/ymca-nsw-youth-parliament