Youth Week is a week which is set aside every year to celebrate youth. Read about its history, and get ideas for celebrating youth in your area.
What is Youth Week?
Youth Week is a week long festival designed to celebrate youth and the part they play in our society. Originally started in Canada in 1995, Youth Week is now celebrated in countries right across the world, including New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Europe.
Every year Youth Week takes on a different focus for celebrating young people. In 2012, Youth Week in NZ dates are 19-27 May.
Youth Week aims to:
- Encourage young people to present their talents, share ideas, and focus on the positive aspects of being young.
- Celebrate young people’s contribution to the community.
- Promote information and services available to youth.
- Raise the profiles of youth projects.
- Provide an opportunity for discussion of youth issues.
- Highlight any areas that need improving.
- Encourage local youth events and competitions.
The festival has a moving date all around the world, but it usually takes place during the month of May.
Who is responsible for Youth Week?
In New Zealand, Youth Week is coordinated by the New Zealand Association for Adolescent Health and Development, and it also receives support from the Ministry of Youth Development. Youth groups and support agencies throughout the country contribute to the festival by organising youth activities and events in their own regions.
How is Youth Week celebrated?
New Zealand Youth Week is built around the Youth Development Strategy to: ‘Have a country where young people are vibrant and optimistic through being supported and encouraged to take up challenges’.
With this focus in mind, youth orientated events are organised all over New Zealand covering arts, culture, sport, recreation, social service, and mentoring. Young people are encouraged to get involved, try something new, showcase their talent, share their views, and play a part in how their community is shaped.
Families are also encouraged to get involved as a way of celebrating what young people mean to them, and acknowledging the work that youth workers, teachers, and youth support agencies do in our community.
How can you get involved in Youth Week?
There are plenty of ways you can get involved in Youth Week. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
- Attend a Youth Week event. You can find a list of events happening in your region on www.youthweek.co.nz, or contact your Ministry of Youth Development listed in the Blue Pages of your phone book. Your local high school or city council may also have information about events in your area.
- Organise your own Youth Week activity. The New Zealand Association for Adolescent Health and Development wants Youth Week to be as vibrant as possible, so any extra Youth Week activities are welcomed with open arms. They will be able to help you out with planning advice and support, and have access to all sorts of resources including promotional material. You can contact them through the Youth Week Website.
- Find out how your local government includes young people in their decision making, and encourage your own children to have a say. Many local governments have a youth council which is made up of youth representatives and youth workers in the community. This council is used as a reference group when making decisions, and often initiates policies or strategies which directly affect our youth.
- Write a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper, saying something positive about the youth in your community. So often people focus on the negative aspects of youth culture, and the positive parts get overlooked. Now is your chance to celebrate the part young people play in your region.
- Do something nice for your child’s teacher, as a way of acknowledging their role in the development of our young people. For many children, their teacher is the one constant thing in their life, and the work they do in these early years does not necessarily show up until much later on.
- Take the time to talk to the children and young people in your life about what they mean to you. We often assume that they already know how special they are, but a special conversation, letter, or card about who they are, will really make a world of difference.