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International Year of Youth Highlights Contributions, Challenges

Year of YouthThe United Nations is dedicating a year to young people by proclaiming August 2010-2011 the International Year of Youth, starting Aug. 12.

Activities throughout the year will seek to encourage dialogue and understanding across generations, focusing on the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and freedoms and solidarity.

Another aim is to encourage young people to dedicate themselves to achieving the longstanding U.N. objectives of social progress and development, including the Millennium Development Goals that focus on improving the lives of the poor.

“The International Year is about advancing the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society,” says Nicola Shepherd, with the U.N.’s Youth Programme. “We encourage all sectors of society to work in partnership with youth and youth organizations to better understand their needs and concerns and to recognize the contributions that they can make to society.”

In its resolution proclamation, the U.N. General Assembly called on governments, civil society, individuals and communities worldwide to support youth-focused activities at local and international levels.

Youth are a focal point within ChildFund program areas. Providing young people with leadership experience to build self-confidence and skills training to aid future employment is a crucial step in breaking the cycle of poverty.

In Brazil, ChildFund, NetHope and Intel Corp. are piloting a netbook project to enhance educational programs for children and youth.

In The Gambia, Mexico and the Philippines, youth reporters are pinpointing the challenges as well as the assets in their communities and engaging with community leaders on how youth can help solve problems and also be role models for younger children. Educated and skilled youth are helping build a better world this year and every year.