Something significant happens when people make the conscious decision to remain silent. This choice is not without its consequences. It isn’t true when people tell you that nothing will happen if you stay quiet?
What happens? You give power to another individual. You surrender your ability to create the world with which you live in. Passiveness has the power to perpetuate the things and people who support the things that make the world a difficult place to live in. People don’t realize the power with which they carry throughout their daily lives. They don’t realize that with everything they touch, everything they see, everything they say holds impact on reality.
They don’t realize that they are an advocate. We are all advocates. The question is then; what are you an advocate of?
The eighth annual YMCA National Youth Conference in Cape Coast was organized in the hopes to address issues of leadership, advocacy and most importantly communication within youth. It is because of the amazing opportunity which International Youth Day presented that the conference was at this specific time of the year.
International Youth day is about empowerment, mobilization and ACTION within the youth. It is about creating a domino effect of youth building up youth through facing challenges together. Conferences such as the YMCA National Youth Conference are created in order to highlight the things that make International Youth Day an amazing concept. Days and events devoted to the youth across the globe are significant because they provide a platform, a place where the world can see how undeniably powerful the youth of this world can be.
The YMCA Gender Advisor; Linden Deathe was scheduled to facilitate a workshop on gender and communication and Candice and I were assigned the task of tackling the issue of youth advocacy through communication.
I know I was nervous. And I know with certainty that anxiety was bubbling inside Candice as we set up for our workshop on advocacy. BUT, it went great. Better than great. It was awesome.
We had planned to have an exciting presentation with a Pandora box full of visual aids. BUT…the internet had conveniently decided to stop working. Right at our time of need.
This turn of events was anything but desirable however, it forced us to really have a discussion with the youth that we were speaking to. We were forced to talk about their opinions, what was important to them in their communities and talk about HOW they could actually do something about the issues they wanted to address.
Let me tell you…the Ghanaian youth have lots to say! They just need to make sure that they say it and do it LOUDLY. We talked about who is an advocate, where can you advocate, what can you advocate about. But most importantly we tried to communicate to the youth how much IMPACT they actually have within their community. It was really important for us to communicate that all you need is your voice and lots of perseverance. The fact is that people won’t always want to hear what you have to say but you still have to say it. If anything, you have to say it louder so that you become someone who cannot be ignored. Issues are not important until someone makes them important.
It is because of this that we asked the youth to write about the issue that is most important to them on one blank piece of paper and what action they will take to create change on a separate one. The outcome was impactful. As we read them out loud we realized how similar their issues were. I hope they realized that even though they have power in themselves, they don’t have to be alone in their efforts. I hope they realized that youth are most powerful when they are united on an issue.
Most of all. I hope they felt empowered.
– Samantha Juric, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2011
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