By Casey Jones, Programs for Young Leaders staff
Annually, on 20 November, UNICEF hosts a day of action for children by children, called World Children’s Day: a commemoration of the 1989 adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This year, young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and are calling for adults to partner with them in creating a better future. With over 350,000 participants across Rotary’s youth programs, Rotary International knows that young leaders are critical partners in driving social change. Join us in empowering young people and celebrating World Children’s Day! Below are five ways to get involved:
- Learn about Rotary’s impactful youth programs. Youth Service, one of Rotary’s five Avenues of Service, recognizes the importance of empowering youth and young professionals through service and leadership development programs, including Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), and Rotary Youth Exchange.
- Engage young leaders as partners. Young people are key collaborators in service and often lead the way in making positive change within their communities. Invite young people to your Rotary or Rotaract club meetings and partner in serving your shared community. Remember, positive youth-adult partnerships recognize that adults and youth both have something to contribute to and learn from each other. These partnerships require active listening, flexibility, honesty with each other, and openness to cultural differences between young people and adults.
- Amplify the power of youth voices. Elevating youth voices means including the ideas, thoughts, and actions of young people. Additionally, it requires the inclusion of young leaders in the decision-making process for those things that affect and shape their lives. Create opportunities to include youth in leadership roles in your club and district and invite them to contribute in meaningful ways.
- Empower youth through service-learning. Rotary’s approach to youth service, service-learning, emphasizes that young people should oversee their service experience. Young leaders are empowered to identify the issues they care about and develop and implement an effective action plan, all while honing life skills and having a lasting impact on communities. To learn more, interactive courses and downloadable workbooks are available in Rotary’s Learning Center for adult advisers and youth participants ages 16 and older. Watch this informative video and get started with service-learning today.
- Prioritize Youth Protection. Youth protection is the foundation upon which all Rotary youth programs are built. Review Rotary’s youth protection resources for clubs and districts that participate in youth programs and commit to fostering environments that are safe and positive for young people.
World Children’s Day is a time to celebrate the rights and potential of all young people. By engaging with Rotary’s youth programs, we can partner with and empower young leaders to make a positive impact on local communities and the world. Through service-learning, we can provide young people with the skills and experience they need to become changemakers. And by prioritizing youth protection, we can ensure that all youth participants are safe and supported. Together with Rotary’s young leaders, we can create a brighter future for all.