Make a Difference: Ways to Celebrate International Youth Day

by Amanda Thompson

Not to sound too much like Horton, but “a person’s a person no matter how small.” Sometimes it takes the smallest voice to make the biggest difference.

International Youth Day, celebrated on August 12 every year, is right around the corner, and as a day that draws attention to worldwide youth issues, there’s no better time to make your voice heard! With issues ranging from education to poverty to health and the environment, the occasion signifies more than just a celebration; it’s an opportunity to get involved and make a difference in the lives of young people around the world.

Japanese youth with paint on their faces
See what the world has in store for you; join a high school travel program!

International Youth Day was officially established in December 17,1999 by the United Nations General Assembly. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness to cultural and legal issues that surround youth; concerts, workshops, cultural events, education, and employment conferences, and meetings involving youth organizations are all events that take place around the world in order to commemorate this special day. The result is a worldwide event where every person can take action.

Ready to get involved?

In honor of International Youth Day, check out some of the opportunities below and BE one of those helping to spread awareness!

Teach Kids, Teens, and Youth Abroad

Education is one of the most important aspects to promoting youth engagement. The opportunity for education ranges greatly in different places all over the world and in some areas, education may not be easy to receive for youth. It’s important to raise awareness to the realm of education and YOU can be a part of that movement. Whether you’ve been interested in a mentoring program or even assisting with speech therapy for disabled children, there are a variety of ways you can make a difference.

Have you ever considered teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL)? TEFL certification programs exist all around the world and are a great way to travel and get involved, without breaking the bank. Share your love for language, culture, and learning; the educational impact you’ll leave with your students and in the classroom will be greater than any other. The relationships you develop with your students through these programs will do more than just benefit you professionally. On a personal level, you will achieve a new level of global tolerance and appreciation for your life at home.

If we want to see younger generations change the world, it’s up to us to give them tools and knowledge to do so.
Children organizing chalk in a container
Take your talents overseas and teach English to future generations

Volunteer Abroad on Projects that Support Youth

In many ways, volunteering abroad with youth will be like a crash course in cultural awareness. These intensive and hands-on programs bring global issues right to your front door, teaching you valuable communication skills. You’ll never truly understand the amount of need that a country has until you physically step in, lend a helping hand, and volunteer your time. Environment, economic, and political issues are present everywhere in the world; how great will it be to know you’ll be actually making a difference and positive impact? Another plus of youth volunteer programs is that there is never a lack in demand for volunteers, which is unfortunate (but fortunate for you).

Why not consider a youth outreach program in Brazil to help build homes and habitats for those who desperately need them? Or perhaps you can help children in Vietnam diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and other medical conditions by providing them with pediatric massages. Rather hug a tree than a human? Well now you can volunteer with youth in Australia by helping conserve the environment and marine life in the deep blue sea. When you choose to volunteer abroad, you never know where the road might lead or where you’ll end up. Either way, you can always count on it being an unforgettable experience.

Go Abroad Through Youth Travel Programs

The tables have turned and now it’s time for all the youth around the world to educate you. By combining an educational travel program with youth development, you’ll be getting a firsthand glimpse of the issues that face our youth around the world. Youth travel programs will turn the world into your classroom, where participating in homestays, community service, and adventure travel, are all part of the learning experience. 

To start off with, there are a variety of high school programs abroad for those who wish to study  or volunteer internationally before their 20s. These youth travel programs will give you the opportunity to not only learn from youth in your own program, but to also meet others from the country you’re traveling to. If you’re looking to start at an even younger age, there are programs out there that provide opportunities to youth as young as seven years old (like this summer camp in China!). From reflecting on intercultural issues to improving language skills, this total cultural immersion is a stepping stone to better understanding youth culture.

Children playing in a garbage dump
If you have a few weeks to spare, consider joining a volunteer project that helps kids.

Be a part of the worldwide movement and celebrate International Youth Day through the realms of education, volunteering, and travel. The experience and knowledge you’ll gain, people you meet, and positive changes you’ll make are all aspects that won’t be achieved just by sitting on the couch at home. There are children all over the world, just like you (or the you of yester-year!), that want their voices to be heard. Now, thanks to this special holiday, they can be. 

How are YOU celebrating International Youth Day?