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International Youth Day 2014
This year, International Youth Day is addressing the issue of youth and mental health with the slogan “Mental Health Matters”. Due to poverty, violence and post-conflict trauma, gender, identity or disability, millions of youth worldwide are suffering from marginalization and exclusion, and these youth are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues.

Volunteerism has the power to transform the lives of young people, as it inspires and engages, builds confidence, teaches new skills and expands our horizons. For this Youth Day, UNV is drawing special attention to those young people who, through volunteerism,  are enjoying the mental health benefits, sense of accomplishment and inclusion that volunteering brings.

Their stories remind us that no matter where we come from, or what our identity, religion, gender or age, we all, as individuals, have the power to change the world. Read some of these inspiring stories below.
National UN Volunteer Julia Lima, who works with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Communications Unit, took photos of an International Youth Day event in Brasilia where graffiti artists reflected on the theme "Black Youth against Racism and for Peace". (UNV, 2014)
Youth against racism and for peace
27 August 2014
Brasilia, Brazil: On International Youth Day, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme supported an event organized by all United Nations agencies in Brazil, along with the Brazilian Government, to celebrate the date and discuss the theme Black Youth and Peace. Through this event, the United Nations promotes a debate about the challenges faced by black young people in Brazil regarding violence, and access to more choices and opportunities. Read
Countries:  Brazil
UN Youth Volunteer Margaret Hmangte provides speech therapy to Paumuanlian, a 10-year-old child with speech impairment. (UNV, 2014)
UN Youth Volunteers give new breath to community initiative
12 August 2014
Churachandpur, India: In the district of Churachandpur, one of the remotest tribal areas of Manipur, India, there are little services for persons with disabilities and a lack of trained rehabilitation professionals. Four UN Youth Volunteers are bridging this gap by collaborating with the local community and helping them to run a school where physio-, speech- and language-therapy is provided to children with special needs. Read
Countries:  India
Other languages: en français  en español  
Shakeeb Ahmed Khan, UN Youth Volunteer physiotherapist, and Sangboi, a local volunteer, provide balancing training to Elizabeth Chawngzamawi, a child with cerebral palsy. (UNV, 2014)
UNV official message for International Youth Day 2014
12 August 2014
Bonn, Germany: Today, on International Youth Day 2014, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme joins the world in celebrating the role of young women and men as partners for positive change. Please join us in celebrating the millions of young volunteers around the world who, whatever their circumstances, are doing their share, and more, to improve the lives of those around them. Read
Photo © Manfred Gottschall, 1975
Can youth change the world?
12 August 2014
Bonn, Germany: We know, from working with thousands of young volunteers over the course of UNV's 40-year history, that young people are creative, passionate, and energetic. When applied to tackling the world’s leading peace and development challenges, there’s no limit to the innovative solutions that they can come up with. With our new UN Youth Volunteers Programme, we’re helping our UN partners to harness the power and potential of young people to achieve lasting development results. Starting on International Youth Day 2014, UNV is celebrating different youth heroes each week to show that you’re never too young to change the world. We’ll be posting a new inspiring profile at least once a week for 8 weeks. Make sure that you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page! Happy International Youth Day! Read
Other languages: en français  en español  
The United Nations Information Centre in Colombia spoke with the winners of the National Youth Volunteers Award in the areas of education and human rights, who discussed their work. (UNIC Colombia, 2014)
Recognizing youth volunteerism, an achievement in support of development
12 August 2014
Bogotá, Colombia: The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Colombia promotes youth participation in volunteer activities that favour peace and development, and encourages volunteers to apply for the National Youth Volunteers Award. This award, created by the Presidential Programme for Colombian Youth in collaboration with UNV, aims to recognize and support volunteer initiatives driven by Colombian youth that strive to solve the country’s social problems. Read
Countries:  Colombia
Other languages: en français  en español  
Lena Priesemann (right), international UN Youth Volunteer working with UNDP on Youth Networks and Volunteering in Quito, shakes hands with David Ruano, a volunteer who also participated in the MY World Global Week of Action. (UNV, 2014)
Recognizing the volunteer work of university students for development
12 August 2014
Quito, Ecuador: In July 2014, a certificate awards ceremony was held for students from several universities in Quito who volunteered during the MY World Global Week of Action. The awards ceremony was held to recognize the volunteer work of the students who provided their time, energy, commitment, and availability to distribute the MY World open survey, which aims to identify the priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. Read
Countries:  Ecuador
Other languages: en français  en español  
Andrea Giaretta, UN Youth Volunteer with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Guatemala, shares data with participants in the Food Security group through the dedicated website of the WFP. Andrea's work with the WFP is to support coordination between the various actors working in the field of Food Security. Much of this work involves collecting and managing data so that it is always current and can be shared among the various actors. According to Andrea, "the importance of this type of work grows during emergencies, when the coordination of activities among the various actors can help save more lives." (UNV, 2014)
Why become a United Nations Volunteer?
12 August 2014
Guatemala City, Guatemala: After my master’s degree in economics, I decided to change my career perspective to work in the humanitarian sector, in cooperation and development. I had two objectives: to fulfil the dream of knowing new cultures and countries, and to contribute, even in a small part, to improving the living conditions of people in developing countries. This altruistic motivation is what moved me to become a UN Youth Volunteer. Read
Countries:  Guatemala
Other languages: en français  en español  
Pride - the second LGBT Pride march in history that takes place in Chisinau. Pride showed how broad - from different people, different organizations and institutions - the support is. (UNV, 2014)
LGBTQ+ community in Moldova - a new social movement?
12 August 2014
Chisinau, Moldova: "The LGBTQ+ community in Moldova has the potential to act as a catalyst of social reform, similar to other civil rights movements from the past. LGBTQ+ rights in Moldova have the potential to be a connecting theme for a real new social movement," says Josef Šmída, a UN Youth Volunteer with the UN Human Rights Adviser (HRA) in Chisinau, supporting human rights-based development and no discrimination in Moldova. Read
More about: Human rights  Youth
Other languages: en français  en español  
Young people and their teachers are designing and discussing projects which are built on youth-adult partnership methodology. Forum facilitator Valeriya Gorshkova (centre) provides her feedback on the designed projects. (UNV, 2014)
Increasing rural youth capacity to tackle local problems and achieve the MDGs
12 August 2014
Ochakov, Ukraine: More than 50 rural youth and teachers from the Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts took part in the Youth Forum organized by the ‘Young Football Volunteers' programme to learn about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), healthy lifestyle and volunteering. The YFV programme was launched by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in 2012 to utilize sport and volunteering as a means to tackle health and social risks. Read
Countries:  Ukraine
Other languages: en français  en español  
UN Youth Volunteer/UNV Human Rights Officer Fanny Declercq (Belgium, right) prepares folders with documentation on The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention No. 169 to share with beneficiaries in Bolivia. Fanny shared information about their rights and the duties of the state and of mining companies. (UNV, 2013)
Fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples
12 August 2014
La Paz, Bolivia: During my one-year assignment in Bolivia as a UN Youth Volunteer, I worked at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) within the Indigenous Peoples Unit. I became familiar with the rights of indigenous peoples in a country where 42% of the population identify themselves as indigenous. Read
Countries:  Bolivia
Other languages: en español  en français  
UN Youth Volunteer Marta Gutiérrez (left) with Manuela Omari Ima, Community Coordinator of the Association of Waorani Women of the Ecuadorian Amazon (AMWAE), during the volunteer’s interview of AMWAE members for the production of a documentary film. (UNV, 2014)
Recognizing and advancing local sustainable development
12 August 2014
Quito, Ecuador: As a UN Youth Volunteer in Gender Analysis, assigned to the UNDP Office of the Resident Coordinator in Quito, Ecuador, I support and advise the Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Country Team on gender-related advocacy, communications and resource mobilization. Read
More about: Gender  Youth
Countries:  Ecuador
Other languages: en français  en español  
UN Volunteers who are part of the PEI project in Arequipa, Peru, demonstrate how to correctly separate solid waste. By using games for the demonstration, they caught the attention of people attending an environmental fair in Arequipa. (UNV Peru, 2014)
Management of solid waste for sustainable development
12 August 2014
Arequipa, Peru: Improving waste management is the main goal of the UNDP-UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) ‘Integrated Management of Solid Waste for Sustainable and Inclusive Development’, which has involved UNV since 2013. UNV intends to use its involvement in PEI to utilize the potential of volunteerism, as well as the engagement of young people, to enhance the social and environmental impact of the project. Read
Countries:  Peru
Other languages: en français  en español  
Young job seekers take advantage of the newly opened CISO Centre in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Elizabeth Siebenmann/UNV, 2011)
Fostering employment and discouraging illegal immigration
12 August 2014
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Youth Employability and Retention or, as it was commonly known, YERP programme, aimed to offer young people new entry points to the job market and at the same time discourage their illegal emigration, to prevent the drain of valuable resources from the country. With 24 national UN Volunteers, UNV played a pivotal role to utilize volunteerism as a linkage between education and the labour market, supporting the government, the public employment system and civil society with an integrated package of youth employability measures. Read
Amanda Eyer (left), UN Youth Volunteer with UN-Habitat Ecuador, during a workshop about urban planning with the community of Puerto La Cruz in the Gulf of Guayaquil. (UNV, 2014)
Mutual learning, action and enthusiasm
30 July 2014
Quito, Ecuador: Among this year’s many enriching experiences as a UN Youth Volunteer, two particularly stand out. Participating in the organization of the first National Urban Forum in Ecuador was one of them. The other was learning about the most immediate needs of communities living under very poor conditions in the Gulf of Guayaquil. In many ways, I equate these experiences with the essence of the mission of a volunteer. Read
More about: Poverty  Youth
Countries:  Ecuador
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