“Environmental degradation, sustainable development and the regulation of human impact on our planet will likely be the greatest challenges we face in the 21st century. The earth is the greatest resource that young people have, yet we are destroying it.” (World YMCA)
The World YMCA believes that:
- Every young person should live in a sustainable environment
- We should be an example of sustainable practices and respect for the environment
- Young people should be given opportunities to learn and advocate on environmental issue
- Every young person has the ability to contribute to reducing environmental degradation and its consequences
The global YMCA movement recognizes that young people face many challenges on a global scale and that empowering them to act within their own communities will spark real and sustainable change. Employment, civic engagement, health, and the environment have been identified as 4 critical areas necessary for young people to experience a sense of well-being and dignity.
Each day, our choices (big and small) make a difference. From the things we buy and the food we eat, to what we talk about with our friends and how we pass the time – these small decisions can have a big impact on the world around us. However, the time has come for conversation and action around the environment to expand beyond the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle). While there is still great power in how we model climate justice in our own lives; the critical changes need to also happen at a policy level. The World YMCA is committed to engaging young people in learning about critical environmental issues and supporting their growth as climate advocates. Every young person has the capacity to confront environmental policy, be it in their local YMCA or at UN climate talks.
Throughout the months of March and April, I will be leading 50 young people from 30 different countries as they explore what it means for them to be strong advocates for the environment in their YMCAs and their communities. Through a series of 5 online modules and video panels, participants will look at the roles that activism and advocacy play in their lives, learn new skills to communicate their message, and develop an action plan to address an issue that is important to them. Most importantly, they will have the support of participants from around the world who are also working towards a more sustainable and just world. Supporting young people as advocates recognizes that climate change and environmental justice are not future concerns, but are real problems that need to be addressed in the present, with urgency.
I am grateful for the support of the World YMCA and I am very excited to support a new generation of young people who have strong voices to stand up for our collective right to a clean, sustainable, and responsible world.
Community Outreach Director, YMCA Calgary
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