Celebrating the Power of Youth: International Youth Day

On August 12, we celebrate International Youth Day. This year “Youth Empowerment for a Sustainable Future” focuses on encouraging young people to lead in creating a more sustainable and resilient world. This theme recognizes the importance of involving youth in environmental and social initiatives.

The youth of today are not just tomorrow’s leaders; they are already actively contributing to positive change. With their energy, creativity, and fresh perspectives, young people are driving innovation, advocating for social justice, and bringing attention to critical issues like mental health, gender equality, and environmental conservation.

In September 2020, the New Canadians Centre started the Young Leaders group seeking to empower youth who have newcomer experience.

Left to right: Aanya, Gustavo, Maria, Tim, Angel, Sophie, Haya, Fatma, Hellen, and Ashna.

The NCCYL is a council of high school students; most members are newcomers themselves, and others are Canadian-born to immigrant parents. They meet weekly from September to June, engaging in meaningful projects with the goal of supporting and empowering new Canadian youth in Peterborough-Nogojiwanong.

The first cohort of NCCYL ran a virtual hangout event, a virtual homework help group, and created a New Canadian Youth Guidebook with advice and tips on settling into Canada – made for newcomer youth by newcomer youth.

Since then, each year, a new group of young leaders engage in meaningful discussions to create and implement projects that they believe will address the needs of newcomer youth in their community. NCCYL members engage youth to attend and partake in their events and projects, hoping to empower them and enrich their lives.

The last two groups of leaders have produced a radio show called “The NCCYL Show”, broadcast through the facilities of Trent Radio on CFFF 92.7 FM. It can be found on Spotify as a podcast. They have run numerous events such as games nights, multicultural events, potlucks, and community events in collaboration with the City of Peterborough.

NCCYL’s most recent project is called “Tips for Teachers”. “We did a round table discussion to create resources for educators in Canada. It was very meaningful because I was hearing all the opinions from youths my age who were having the same experiences I had when I first came to Canada”, shares Maria Mahfuz, NCCYL participant.

“Tips for Teachers” is a document with advice for teachers through the lens of new Canadian youth. “We created this document to share with teachers so they can help newcomer youth to adapt to school easily. I know that at first, when people come here, it is all just new faces, and they don’t know what to do. At lunch breaks, they sit by themselves, and a lot of times, teachers don’t know what to do because it is also something new to them,” shares Maria. “It is really important for me to bring awareness of all the struggles of newcomers students.”

The New Canadians Centre recognizes the power and potential of youth in shaping a better world. International Youth Day is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements, address the challenges they face, and support their empowerment. Through collaborative efforts, we aspire to forge an all-encompassing and enduring future, where the voices of youth are not only heard but also wholeheartedly embraced in the global discourse.

Happy International Youth Day!