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12.8.2023 | Anna Paula Herrera & Effie-Ling Heslop |

International Youth Day: a celebration of the new generation of changemakers

When thinking about changemaking it's impossible to not think about the youth. International Youth Day is celebrated annually on August 12th as an opportunity to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community, as well as to celebrate and recognise the importance of youth as partners in the shaping of today and tomorrow.

As we move into tomorrow, more and more global youth are stepping up to be leaders, with their unique perspectives and creative solutions they play a vital role in how we address complex global issues. International Youth Day serves as a poignant reminder that investing in the aspirations of young people today can pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive, and prosperous tomorrow.

To celebrate Youth Day we wanted to highlight some work that our Youth Ambassadors are doing around the world. Whether it is through engaging in local discussions in their communities or through creating impactful innovations across borders, young people are at the forefront of global change, and we are proud of having so many in our community!

Saving Jakarta's rivers: Miguel Tjia, Indonesia

When Miguel travelled the world he noticed a stark difference in his rivers at home to the ones in other countries. “I could almost relate to the city I called home as a dystopian world. On the other hand, the rivers I often see in other parts of the world are often majestic waterways, glorified with life, serenity, peace, and beauty; aspects that I believe were owned by these polluted rivers at one point in time.” This motivated him to start River Rebirth: an organisation that cleans the rivers in Jakarta by installing floating barriers to stop the flow of solid waste to the ocean, sorting the waste and sending it to a recycling facility. His initiative was recently awarded by the Global Youth Action Fund! 

Closing communication gaps: Keyaan and Ahaan Shah, India

After visiting a restaurant entirely staffed by speech and hearing impaired individuals, Keyaan and Ahaan Shah, a brother duo from India, were inspired to make a difference. Working closely with the deaf community, they developed a portable device that helps individuals communicate with one another by translating Indian sign language into English in real time. Their innovation is called SignKraft, which has been recognised by a number of awards. They hope to further distribute SignKraft around India whilst also expanding the vocabulary on the device. 

Spreading SDG awareness: Hijaz and Fardeen Blaq, Kenya 

Another example of young siblings working together towards changemaking are Fardeen and Hijaz Blaq, from Kenya. Since the age of 9, both have demonstrated a passion for leading positive change in their community. Most recently, Hijaz launched the innovation Kikao Cultures, a platform aimed at teaching about the Sustainable Development Goals to children worldwide, where her brother Fardeen also participates. In July 2023, Hijaz received the Diana award as the youngest recipient in Africa.

Bringing the community together for the environment: Ilakiza Jackson, Tanzania

Ilakiza started Think Green Environmental Club involving everyone in her community in environmental conservation and awareness running different projects. “We work to develop a better and healthier environment because we believe that human development and the environment go hand in hand.” Her initiative has collaborated with other organisations in Tanzania - including local governments!

The urge to include youth as partners in changemaking

Quoting Ilakiza, “Young people are often overlooked or left behind, despite our eagerness to be part of the change. As young people, we have the opportunity to learn how things operate and enjoy being part of a team while contributing our ideas to bring about change. Although we may not always receive adequate support, we are a valuable resource in building systems and effecting change in our societies.” 

For Miguel, youth's availability to see the world creatively is key to their role as changemakers: “With the addition of our youth's fire, as well as our ability to think creatively that is fueled by our active imagination, we have the potential to create huge changes around the world. I believe what most young people need is the confidence to step up, to believe in the idea that they think is great.” 

How are youth taking action?

For Riya Mehta, a Youth Ambassador from Canada, one notable way in which young people are creating change is through social entrepreneurship. “Many young people are starting their own ventures, developing innovative solutions to address pressing social and environmental challenges and I plan to do so too! Many young people are also actively participating in local initiatives and nonprofit organisations, dedicating their time and skills to uplift marginalised communities, support education programs, and provide aid during crises.”

Collaboration is key when it comes to leading change, and it is one of the aims of the Youth Ambassador Programme. Nayla Faizha, a Youth Ambassador from Indonesia, also believes so. “The IBOxHundrED Youth Ambassador Program taught me the value of teamwork, collaboration, and the courage to step outside of my comfort zone. Everyone has the ability to create change with their own way of different approaches.”

HundrED's Youth Ambassador Programme in partnership with IBO stands by the youth and invites the wider community to support young people worldwide! 

Anna Paula Herrera
Effie-Ling  Heslop