In the fall of 2010 I volunteered with Youth Challenge International on a 10- week project in Ghana. Our project was focused on the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and what Ghanaian youth can do in their communities to contribute to achieving these goals.
On Thursday June 30th 2011, I had the honour of representing Youth Challenge International at an official Youth Barbecue to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their royal tour of Canada. The theme of the 2011 Royal Tour is “Moving Forward Together: From Past Accomplishments to Current Service to Future Achievements.”
In honour of this theme 120 youth from across Canada coming from diverse volunteer experiences gathered at Rideau Hall in Ottawa Ontario. The event hosted by the Governor General and the Prime Minister, was to celebrate dedicated service at home and abroad and youth who, through their actions, are building a smarter and more caring nation and planet.
Throughout the evening the youth attendees were placed into similar to those identified in the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund:
• support for service personnel and their families,
• conservation for future generations,
• children fulfilling their potential,
• changing lives through art and sport
• help and care at home
The Royal Couple and distinguished guests took time in each group speaking with youth about their service to the local and global communities. I took part in the “Children Achieving their Potential” grouping and within this group we discussed our volunteer experiences and the services of our respective organizations.
It was truly an amazing experience to be able to speak with distinguished guests such as the Honourable James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. I was honoured to discuss the work that Youth Challenge International has done in the past and is continuing to do. I even had the pleasure of speaking briefly with her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge about my experience with YCI in Ghana in the fall of 2011. I was also able to share with her the common thread that links YCI to the Royal Couple – the origin of Youth Challenge International. I was able to explain that Youth Challenge International evolved from Operation Raleigh (later named Raleigh International), a UK organization that was launched by Prince Charles, and with whom both William and Kate travelled to Chile with for 10 weeks in 2000.
In addition to the excitement of the royal couple and distinguished guests I left this event feeling truly inspired by the youth attendees I had the pleasure of meeting. I was able to connect with volunteers from across the country… from Nova Scotia to British Colombia to the Yukon, volunteers who have dedicated their young lives to service in their communities and abroad. As I spoke with attendees over the course of the evening I discovered that a common goal of empowering youth to create positive change united the diverse range of services represented at this event.
This gathering of youth left no doubt in my mind that youth are playing a critical role in creating positive change in their communities. The work of organizations like YCI enable Canadian youth and youth around the world to take an active role in their future and through partnership move forward together to create a more caring nation and planet.
– Stephanie Bray, YCI Alumni, Ghana 2010. Stephanie also wrote a blog post for YCI while on project, click here to read her post from the field.
Want to learn what other YCI alumni are up to? Check out our blog’s Alumni Update category.