Young people have a vital role to play in society. Their knowledge, energy, dedication, and passion should be fully developed and maximized if the people of today want a promising and brighter future.

Greta Thunberg took the world by storm when she publicly criticized and challenged world leaders during the 2019 Climate Action Summit for failure to address the current climate crisis. Her exclamation “How dare you?” created what’s now known as the “Greta Effect” that rippled throughout all corners of the globe and sparked a never-seen-before climate strike movement reverberating worldwide. At the age of 15, to say that Thunberg’s action was remarkable is an understatement. 

This teenager’s move is outstanding; it is a move in that stories about heroes are made. What’s made this incident more striking is that it is a YOUNG person making the bold move to address an issue that has so long been taken for granted by significant world leaders who were supposed to be the ones to create that much-needed considerable change. 

Alfred H. Kurland’s book The Soul of Adolescence Aligns with the Heart of Democracy is compelling literature that identifies the youth as the problem-solvers for the problems and crises faced in today’s times. The book constructively criticizes the old standards set for adolescents, wherein they tend to demean, dismiss, and even sabotage the participation and contribution of teens to their community. It further strengthened the urgent call to action on the need to empower the youth through education and research to fully maximize their potential and capacities as movers and shakers of society. 

Why the need to invest in the youth of today?

On 2014 World Population Day, the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “to prioritize youth in development plans, strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations, and involve young people in all decisions that affect them.

Ban Ki-moon’s statement called to focus on the significance of investing in young people and consider them an essential element to the well-being of the global population. More than just the population and birth control issue, teenagers have a more prominent role to play that can significantly impact the future of society. 

The youth is the backbone, the foundation of any nation or society. They are the future leaders that will take on problems that remain unsolved by current leaders. They are the future innovators, future educators, future healers, and future protectors of an inherited world full of unaccountable and unresolved problems. 

If ever the future generation wanted to see a better world and a brighter tomorrow, then people need to invest in today’s youth. 

Youth as Agents for Nation Building

 Engaging the youth as agents of nation-building is a strategic plan to make this world sustainable and livable for future generations. The key here is to aim for positive development, positive development among adolescents or teenagers, positive development in the community, and positive development in law-making or strategic policies. 

Here are some ways to future-proof today’s youth and make them ready to put on the hat of nation builders.

Youth Engagement in Policy-Making 

Young people should be allowed to participate actively in policy-making or law-making. Their thoughts and opinions should be taken into consideration because, after all, it is their future that is at stake. They should be given opportunities to work alongside elected officials, have a role to play as community stakeholders, or participate in government activities.

As young people become more active in their community policy-making process, they tend to develop and cultivate their spirit of nationalism. 

Youth-led Advocacies

Teenagers should be encouraged to voice their thoughts and feelings significantly when something can impact them greatly. For instance, they can form their advocacies if they’re passionate about a specific niche or interest, such as environmental awareness and protection, homeless and poverty, education, racial and social discrimination, etc. To be able to voice out and be heard is one step toward making an impact on creating a better society. 

Boosting Educational Opportunities

Education is an effective tool for creating the leaders people want for tomorrow. Expand the academic curriculum to include cultural awareness, strategic and action planning, exposure to different races and nations, etc. Outside of school institutions, there should also be training institutes to up the skills training and trade as a preparation in case of a period of unemployment or lack of job opportunities.

One of the aims of creating nation-builders is to develop critical thinkers and communicators and to make a society of young people who are empowered and confident with their knowledge. 

Promoting Health and Social Programs

If the adults want their children to be led by healthy and robust leaders, they must start investing in the youth’s health and social welfare programs. More than just physical health needs, these programs should also cover overall psychosocial health. Leaders with better mental health tend to make good decisions and have stronger resilience to cope with life’s problems or stress. 

The “Greta Effect” created an unprecedented impact beyond the urgent call toward climate crisis. It made a massive awareness and recognition of how powerful the voices of the young people are. And they should be. After all, if people want to see and live in a better world tomorrow, they should start future-proofing the youth – Now.  

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