Celebrating Youth Week

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On 15 March 2019, an estimated 1.4 million school students in over 2000 cities across the world, participated the Global Climate Strike For Future.

In the lead up to the day, the students behind the strike – including 16-year-old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg – wrote an open letter to the Guardian. Its final paragraph stated:

‘You have failed us in the past. If you continue failing us in the future, we, the young people, will make change happen by ourselves. The youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.’

This recent emergence of youth as a political force is particularly timely as we prepare to celebrate Youth Week from 10 to 18 April.

Youth Week is an opportunity for young people to express their ideas and views, act on issues that affect their lives, and create and enjoy activities and events.

Laura Hanlon from the Newcastle Community Youth Development Project has shared what’s on her radar for Youth Week, with the theme being Coming together to Connect, Share, Speak out and Celebrate:

“Creating connections is the key element in my role as Newcastle Youth Development Officer (YDO). It’s about responding to community need and connecting two sides of the same coin – what young people want and what youth agencies are delivering.

I’m in a unique position where I can ensure young people are connecting with the services designed for them, and that they also have a say in how they want services to run. And while my position is auspiced by Samaritans via NSW government funding, I actually work for the whole sector.

When we put a call out months ago about a Youth Week event, we had so many young people interested. They wanted this space to get up and show who they are; somewhere safe. So, Opening Night for Youth Week will host an awesome mix of young people from a whole bunch of different backgrounds, and it just shows the diversity of youth within the Newcastle community. Having this kind of melting pot where they can all come together and hang out should be a really fun time.

Performances will be from young musicians and singer-songwriters, plus two dance groups including a multicultural youth group putting on a dance and teaching it to the crowd.

Ability Links and Flourish will be coming to create a sensory chillout space to help make sure the event is inclusive for all young people.

We’re really lucky to be partnering with Wallsend Library. Libraries are these fantastic resources in our community and a lot of people don’t realise. Hosting an event in this space can showcase these assets we have that are sometimes underutilised.

I’m fortunate to be able work in a space where I can link services to youth in the community and help to project the voices of young people back to the sector. My role is constantly changing, very diverse, with lots of moving parts. No two days are alike which is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. Projects like Youth Week where I get to work with some amazing young people as well as the services who support them makes me feel pretty lucky to be in the job I’m in.”

All welcome at the free Youth Week Opening Night event at Wallsend Library, April 10 4pm-7pm. More details via the Newcastle Live website or the Facebook event.