January 11, 2012

Support youth volunteerism – it builds informed global citizens and contributes to sustainable development

(Source 18_01-11-2012_EN_Op ed_Canada World Youth_01-11-2012 – GUARDIAN)

Canada World Youth held an event in Charlottetown this week to promote the benefits of international youth volunteering through the inspiring personal stories of three former Canada World Youthprogram participants – all Charlottetown residents – who say they were changed by their experience. Mathieu Arsenault, Conor Leggott and Betty-Jo McCarville have become advocates for sustainable change in their community. Maritime families and community groups are currently hosting Canada World Youth volunteers in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Truro, Halifax and St. John’s.

Earlier this month, Canada World Youth celebrated the talent, determination and social engagement of four impressive young leaders, during our 2012 Youth Leadership Awards. Like the majority of our 35,000 program participants over the past 40 years, –most of these young people will go on to fill important leadership roles in society.

Our two Canadian laureates, from Montreal this year, are addressing the need for more local, sustainable food sources for urban populations through their Urban-Rural Farm Exchange project. A laureate from Benin, West Africa, co-founded a network of journalists which, through lobbying and awareness campaigns, has contributed to an increase, from 50% to 65%, in the population’s access to clean water and adequate sanitation, in just a few short years. Our final laureate, from Nepal, founded a school that educates 250 children – all victims of the 1996-2006 Nepali Civil War, while providing essential educational services to some 2,000 people from surrounding communities.

As these inspiring examples demonstrate – and there are many more – youth play a vital and unique role in international cooperation – not hard to imagine with over 50% of the population of developing countries being youth. In addition to the skill-building that prepares them for real life and future leadership roles, these young people contribute to economic development initiatives, while building democracy and social justice around the world.

Most Canadian NGOs work closely with partner organizations in developing countries. Sadly, like most of them, we cannot respond to all the pressing requests we receive from our 25 partners – simply due to a lack of project funding. This, despite the fact that it has been demonstrated that volunteerism can be more effective, bring more sustainable results, than standard technical assistance. And volunteerism is almost always less expensive.

We should all support youth volunteerism. We should salute and support youth leaders in all our communities. We need to believe in our young people, to acknowledge their potential to lead, and provide them with the help they need to shoulder those responsibilities.

Louis Moubarak, APR President and CEO (interim) Canada World Youth

Cet article est également disponible en FR.

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About Canada World Youth

Canada World Youth is dedicated to enriching the lives of youth aged up to 35 who want to become informed and active global citizens. CWY offers international transformative learning experiences focused on building knowledge, leadership and skills through participation in sustainable community-driven projects. For more than 40 years, 38,000 youth and 12,000 host families have participated in CWY programs, in Canada and abroad.

CWY is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency as a charitable organization (#118973999RR0001).

Source : Mary McGee, Communications Officer, Canada World Youth, 514 931-3526 # 336,

Interviews and information (photos available):

Mary McGee
1 800 605-3526 #336
514 931-3526 # 336