Today — August 12 — is International Youth Day. Enacted in 1999 by the United Nations, the day raises awareness for issues young people face. The first International Youth Day was celebrated on August 12, 2000. Each year, the day has a theme; this year’s is “Youth Building Peace.” Past themes have been about mental health, civic engagement and poverty and sustainability.

Young people are critical in preventing conflict and sustaining peace. The UN says of the day: “International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.”

Millions of young people all over the world live in countries that struggle with armed conflict, unrest and environmental issues. Oftentimes, young people don’t get to have a say in policy making that will directly impact them for years to come. The UN has made it clear they believe youth should have a seat at the table when dealing with worldwide peace and security. International Youth Day aims to shine a spotlight on those issues.

Youth involvement in peacekeeping and sustainability efforts is imperative. Ensuring young people have access to quality education, health care and other needs only serves to benefit everyone. When young people, the future of the planet, have every opportunity to achieve their full potential, it lessens the chance of conflict.

Get involved in International Youth Day by checking out the UN toolkit for ways you can contribute. You can learn more about youth building peace efforts here. Make a difference in your own communities. Join the UN and countless people around the world by celebrating International Youth Day today!

-Sage Daugherty
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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