International Youth Day, on August 12th 2021, is a day of celebration designed to highlight the achievements of young people across the world. There is a focus on the efforts of young people to make a positive contribution to global society. This day can also be used as a powerful springboard for discussing ongoing global issues with your class, and for learning about equality, conflict, resolution and sustainability. The next generation will be the ones tasked with looking after our world. Let’s inspire the young people that we work with to have an awareness of global issues and to be active participators in society… Read on for plenty of ideas and International Youth Day resources to try in the classroom!
1. Introduce Students to New Role Models
Survey your average class of teenagers on what they want to be when they’re older, and chances are you’ll get more than a few saying ‘TikTok Star’, ‘Twitch Gamer’ or ‘Social Media Influencer’. While we are sure there are plenty of positive role models active on social media, it’s important to introduce students to a wide range of inspirational people. As part of international youth day, try highlighting some of the fantastic young people who are making a difference in the world today:
From Teenage Olympic Success…
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic games have given us a plethora of inspirational stories, both on and off the competitive field. This year’s games have also seen an amazing array of talented youth competing. 13-year-old Sky Brown became Team GB’s youngest ever summer Olympian. The youngest competitor at the games is 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza.
Share some of their stories with your classes, and look out for those ‘I want to be like them‘ expressions of wonder.
…To Global Activists
Greta Thunberg is perhaps synonymous now with youth raising awareness of global issues and actively making a positive contribution. Her most recent BBC series ‘A Year to Change the World’ saw Greta travelling to attend UN climate conferences and meeting with David Attenborough as she spreads her message about the impact we are currently having on the planet.
- Clips from the series would be excellent start points for a class project on the climate change effects across the world or for focussing in on a geographical area for a case study.
- Primary students could learn about Greta’s story and choose an issue within the school to kick start a persuasive writing topic.
2. Tackle Global Issues with your Class
The theme of this year’s international youth day is transforming food systems: youth innovation for human and planetary health. This may sound like a big topic to get your teeth stuck into in the classroom! So, we have collected some useful ideas and resources for tackling global issues in the classroom below:
- For Primary KS2, try these Global Citizenship resources produced by Oxfam to help learners ages 7-11 learning about issues such as social justice, equality and sustainability
- For KS3, these resources focus on ‘finding peace’ by learning about conflict and resolution could be a powerful tool in lessons. Particularly useful as a follow up to any debating or persuasive writing topics.
- Get your class to investigate what constitutes a healthy weekly diet. Consider the health benefits of moving towards a plant-based diet.
- Write persuasive letters to local shops and supermarkets to implore them to do more about food wastage.
- Create informative or instructional leaflets or videos. Raise awareness amongst family members on the most effective ways to recycle and deal with food waste in the home.
- Get students to design their own social media campaigns. Make people think carefully about how their habits and actions can affect the world around them.
The United Nations
Additionally, it would be useful to introduce your students to the United Nations. Let students know there is a global organisation out there tasked with maintaining peace and equality, protect human rights and deliver humanitarian aid. Hopefully, this will be comforting for students with anxiety or stress from the news or after a difficult year.
The resources here help students explore what the United Nations does and how they support different countries across the world.
3. Promote ‘Student Voice’ in the Classroom
The International Youth Day resources here provide excellent opportunities for promoting student voice in the classroom. We feel student voice should form an important of any great teacher’s pedagogy. How do your students feel about the issues raised on international youth day? How do they think we could/should investigate this issue? Why do they think it is important to have a positive impact on the world around them? (remember by ‘the world’, we’re not necessarily looking for the next Greta. Empower your students to have an impact within the classroom or amongst family and friends.)
Class debate and student council
Tackle some of the issues raised here with a debate club or student council. They can also be brought into a primary classroom or secondary tutor group: Try hosting a debate or constructive argument in your classroom. Challenge students to be able to construct an argument in support of either side. Teach your students to listen to each other’s points, acknowledge other’s points and make meaningful contributions to the discussion.
Make your expectations for behaviour and conduct clear and tie them explicitly into the success criteria for the debate. This will help keep things calm and civil!
Thank you for reading!
We hope you’ve found this blog containing International Youth Day Resources helpful. There are loads of useful activities and ideas that your students will benefit from all year round. Don’t worry if you miss the day itself! Do get in touch with suggestions or ideas for raising awareness in students as a part of international youth day.