According to the United Nations, the youth accounts for 16% of the global population. That is, 1.2 billion people make up the 15-24 age group. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”. If these are anything to go by, we need to build a society that will be sustainable and livable for the youth of tomorrow. International Youth Day is celebrated annually on 12 August. Read to learn more about the challenges facing the youth and how together with the older generation we overcome these challenges and live under an intergenerational society that’s beneficial for all.
What Is International Youth Day?
International Youth Day is a day celebrated annually on 12 August. On this day, the key challenges facing the youth are highlighted to broader international communities.
This year’s theme is Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages. Its goal is to highlight that change is needed to address the disconnect between generations and ensure that no age group should be left behind as the world moves forward. The issue of ageism, the stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudices that affect how we think, act, and feel about one another based on one’s age, comes to the fore. It affects everyone.
Older people are viewed as rigid, boring, old-fashioned, stubborn, and traditional. The youth, conversely, are viewed as irresponsible, lost, wayward, with no work ethic, and too modern. Both assumptions are damaging and limiting as they influence the needs, opportunities, skills, and abilities that each has and can contribute to the growth of the wider society. And leverage the knowledge that can be used to bridge the divide.
Who Are The Youth?
There is no one universal definition for the youth age group, however, “youth” is defined and understood as the time between your childhood and adulthood. The youth are those between the ages of 15-24, although this varies in some countries. It’s the period of transition between the two periods and this period is characterised by ‘freshness’, ‘energy’, ‘vitality’, and ‘vigour’ to name a few. It’s also a time where the generation is are about:
- being spontaneous and exploring,
- becoming self-aware,
- are thirsty for knowledge,
- live inspired,
- and maximising on the potentials of technology and the digital space.
The youth are the backbone of their country and are the builders of tomorrow, with the ability to drive and influence culture, societies, developments, and their country’s policies. The youth are the future.
What Are The Biggest Challenges Facing The Youth?
When you think of the youth, you also think of progress and change. Unfortunately, these truths are met with challenges. Global issues and crises, and local issues all influence the future and can hamper this growth.
- High and increasing costs of living
- Gender and social inequalities
- Debt and shifting economies
- Time and stress management
- Political unrest
- Mental health issues
- Social media
These challenges can be met when the youth work together with the older generation to find sustainable solutions that will create a better world.
9 Strategies to Bridge The Gap Between Young and Old
At a glance, these challenges may seem insurmountable for the youth to shoulder. Both young and old need to work together to overcome these. However, this has often been a challenge in itself – bridging those gaps between generations to find solutions. To do this successfully, young, and old need to find common ground, draw knowledge, wisdom from the old, and innovation from the youth to overcome the obstacles. A few simple ways to marry the two can be to:
- Create generational awareness
- Personalise approaches between young and old
- Utiliise different communication techniques
- Be open to learning and listening
- Ask questions. Be teachable and open to learning. Don’t assume you’re always right
- Understand and respect differences and values
- Develop intergenerational relationships
- Create intergenerational-friendly environments
- Avoid using stereotypes
The world is not just for the youth, but for all generations living in it. When there is intergenerational solidarity, we can all work together to find solutions, there’s no mountain that will be too high to climb, no one will feel left out in creating a better world and all will be able to benefit from all the world has to offer.
Benefits of Intergenerational Solidarity
When we speak about an intergenerational society, we mean the level of support and close relationship that exists between the different generations. Solidarity focuses on how these different generations can relate to, depend on, and understand one another.
The work being done by the older generation is the inheritance the youth will be rewarded with. Similarly, whatever the youth of today are sowing, our children and grandchildren will reap. This underlies the value of balancing the needs of the young and old – strengthening that solidarity between the generations.
- Less ageism
- Transfer of knowledge – learning and sharing skills
- Stronger communities
- Easing financial burdens
- Inclusion in nation-building policies
- Both generations have a sense of worth and purpose
- Reduced feelings of social isolation which can affect mental health
The advantage of intergenerational solidarity enriches all members of each age group. Even with International Youth Day being celebrated, fostering this means older generations won’t be left out and that they can (and should) contribute to young people. For the youth, this will empower them to have a say in the world they stand to inherit.
It’s International Youth Day but it’s a day that encourages the older generation to lead, support and guide the youth. It’s also a day where the youth should recognise the necessity to nurture, draw from the wells of the older generation and use that as our inheritance to build on the days to come.
If we can commit to working through the challenges, the youth will build on the successes of the former. With the energy of the youth and the wisdom of the old, we can achieve more.