Today’s Youth the Hope for a Brighter Future

Yamkela Nako was a participant in PPI-SA before he became a coach at Assegai Primary School.

Yamkela Nako was a participant in PPI-SA before he became a coach at Assegai Primary School.

Today’s blog is written by PPI Communications and Development Intern, Lauren Rogers.

Next Monday marks the holiday in South Africa known as National Youth Day. It serves to commemorate a series of student-led protests now known as the Soweto Uprising that began on the morning of June 16, 1976. Though the Uprising is a dark point in the South Africa’s history, they use the day to bring awareness to the need for youth development in the country. It also serves to recognize those young people who were brave enough to stand up for what they believed in.

It seems we hear it often – youth are the future. We might hear it so often that we shrug it off or disregard it. But when you look at the impact youth around the world are making – from Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan to Zach Bonner in the United States to the players who participate in PPI programming – it’s hard to deny.

Participants at a Peace Retreat in the Middle East earlier this year. The retreat brought together 34 youth from three different communities.

Participants at a Peace Retreat in the Middle East earlier this year. The retreat brought together 34 youth from three different communities.

There are many characteristics common to today’s youth that perfectly equip them to shape the future. First, they take risks. Whether it is something as simple as jumping into a freezing swimming pool or something more daring such as taking a stand against society’s norms, youth are typically less risk adverse. One of the ways risk manifests itself is through innovation. Youth are oftentimes more creative, more likely to experiment and try new ways of doing things, while many of us are stuck in our old routines, content with the way things are. Second, youth ask the tough questions, the same ones many people have but are too afraid to ask. Their sincere curiosity and attempts to try to understand the world around them push them to question things. Also, if youth do not like the answers to their questions, they are bold enough to challenge said answers. Third, and most importantly, youth have hope for the future.

The youth who participate in PeacePlayers programs have a great amount of potential to bring change to their respective regions, and while they are all

Players in Cyprus taking part in a basketball drill.

Players in Cyprus taking part in a basketball drill.

smart and brave and inquisitive, I think it is their hope for a brighter future that makes them the perfect people to champion for peace. As South Africa recognizes its young people next week, I encourage us to recognize all the incredible youth making an impact around the world. After all, they are the future.

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

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